“Light On”

I am meeting a man at 307 Lockland Ave. A sanctioned stranger, someone told me has a warm and easy laugh and a house on the East Side, in the historic district.

It’s a new tapas place, one that he recommended. His name is Darren, a name weighted with the sense that it was given by a mother, deliberate and hopeful as she paused in the Ds.

I walk toward the entrance and see him standing just outside, akimbo, his jacket patches indicating elbows. His smile is broad, his hair gone, and though he does not, it seems as though he wants to hug me. His thick trunk is bisected by a slim brown belt, upon which rests the lip of his belly. He’s sweating slightly. His face is the pink of soon-gray meat. And there’s a faint scent hovering about him, the same warm, sick sweetness that radiates from someone who has just done yard work.

“It’s lovely to meet you,” he says. “You’re prettier than she said.”

“Thank you.” I look forward at no one as we move through the doorway and find myself fixated on the phrase, wondering if that’s the way he meant to say it. And wondering what, exactly, she said about me.

At the table, he orders chopito and chorizo. He wants to know what I do for fun.

“I don’t know,” I say. I don’t. I can’t access anything. It’s as if I were born into this moment, with no past to reach back to.

“Sorry,” he says. “I’ve not done this in a while.”

“Me either,” I say, without meaning to.

He moves his hand over the plate and pinches a piece of chopito between two eager fingers.

“Did you know squid have three hearts?” he said and tossed the piece behind his teeth.

“I didn’t know that, no.”

We don’t speak. The only sound is his chewing, like the pasty smacking of some ruminant.

“But I did know that cows have four stomachs,” I say.

“Yes, of course,” he says, and pinches more chopito.

“What do. Um. Do you do anything for fun?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” he says, interested now in the chorizo.

The harsh light from the pendant lamp between us glints off his shiny forehead. If I let myself get close enough, I might be able to see my reflection.

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Featured Fiction New Fiction Conference/Residency Spotlight Essays/Articles (all) Fiction Craft Advice / Suggestions Interviews (all) Author Interview Series Reviews
Sort by

“What We Don’t Say Out Loud”

Maharishi doesn’t speak to me anymore. Neither does God.  But sometimes, the bald guy behind the counter at the Vi
2018-10-19 10:18:41


“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough Swag: Spring Break 2018 at the AWP”

The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) annual conference is the largest writers conference in North
2018-08-13 07:28:20


Beyond Show Don’t Tell: The Poetic Image in Fiction

A few years ago, I came across a memorable TEDx lecture by Dr. Joe Dispenza titled “Our Three Brains: From Thinking t
2018-01-11 11:45:37


“The Abandoned Millworks”

When the abandoned millworks caught fire, distant sirens woke the town. The cutting and drying sheds, reduced to
2016-03-14 06:19:19


“Save Your Abandoned Art”

You are going to write a story so gripping that your readers will forget their problems and disappear inside your
2016-03-08 14:17:59


Author Interview Series: John Brandon

2015-09-21 06:06:45


“Don’t Tell Me What to Think or How to Feel: Avoiding Didacticism”

In my last article, I touched upon the importance of subtlety of theme in effective writing. This can also be
2015-05-15 19:29:08


“Don’t Write Off the Comments of Workshop Readers—Even If They Are All Idiots”

In her article “Workshopping,” Stephanie Vanderlice sums up the phenomenon of the writing workshop in a four-word sen
2015-02-03 06:42:00


“Pretend She Don’t Scare You a Bit”

My giant yellow stepladder shifted, then rose up on one foot, and a minute later I was there, on the concrete, like
2011-09-07 14:01:15


About T.M. Williams

A coal miner’s daughter from Eastern Kentucky who currently lives in Nashville, where she writes songs and fiction. Her stories have been featured in Still: The Journal, Waxing & Waning, and Appalachian Heritage.