Week #19 – The last time

i want to marry my bike but the evangelicals would burn me at the stake
by Anna Ball

Firecrackers by Christian Bell

1
The last time I shouted at my parents, they made me leave. Mom cried. Dad pushed me out the door. Their dog growled at me.

2
The last time I visited the coffee shop it was a gas station. I was twenty. My friend, alive. Days young, air sweet like candy.

3
The last time the wind blew I hopped on a leaf and soared. Carefree, eyes closed, unconcerned where I’d land, what new home was mine.

4
The last time someone pointed a gun at me I laughed. Do us all a favor, jackass, and fire. Those days I was explosives, cyanide.

5
The last time I drank too much the following words applied: vodka, prank, panties, vomit, Doberman, theft, pizza, tears, grammar, nudity, supine, firecrackers, sprint, warthog.

6
The last time, you said, an unfinished thought. Brain misfire, it happens. You stood, quizzical, eyes searching for the rest. In the kitchen, popcorn burned.

7
The last time I pointed a gun at someone it was empty. Old girlfriend. We were stoned. To her, pointing meant shooting. We both cried.

8
The last time I jumped off a building I bounced. Sixteen stories. People ask, why. I say, I knew I’d bounce. Hopeless liar. Elastic posterior.

9
The last time I talked to my dead friend it snowed. We drank wine, watched stupid movies, made snowballs. Let’s get together soon. We parted.

10
The last time. Here’s where I put my foot down. That’s it. I’ve become my parents. No more. I’ll remind you of past trespasses. Explode.

Final Notice by Stacey Allen

Dear Ms. Reller:

This is the last time you will receive a written notice from us. Your animals must be removed from the premises immediately. Failure to honor this request will result in another call to Animal Control.

Enclosed please find another copy of complaints filed with the Avenue Association, in order of receipt:

1. Mrs. Hornsby has stepped in your dog’s poop 14 times. In her own yard.
2. Mrs. Gabriel reports that her two young children have been traumatized by the guinea pig incidents. (involving your free roaming guinea pigs and our neighborhood bald eagle, who is a very messy eater, apparently.)
3. Ms. Baker is unable to retrieve the cantaloupe rinds and corn cobs your goddamned squirrel pulls out of your garden compost and deposits on the roof of her shed.
4. Mr. Wilkins is tired of moving your dog’s poop from his yard in to Mrs. Hornsby’s, even if it is funny to watch her step in it.
5. Mrs. Gabriel would like you to remove the decapitated body of Mr. Snuffles that the eagle left atop her mailbox. It is starting to smell.
6. You have a squirrel? For real?
7. Mrs. Gabriel reports that her mailbox is covered with maggots, and other unappetizing things. She believes the maggots may be your pets as well.
8. Our community bylaws specifically prohibit camels. Even camels that are called “llamas.”
9. Your camel spit on Mrs. Gabriel again today. While eating maggots.

Sincerely,
The Avenue Association Board

Thursday by Randal Houle

Every Thursday, around 11 am, right after the cemetery where I work receives the daily shipment of cremated remains to be interred, a frail nonagenarian steps out of the driver’s seat of his Lincoln Continental and walks, unassisted, up a flight of twenty granite steps, disappears around a corner, sits at a chair – that I set up two hours earlier along with a small bouquet of flowers, and visits his wife who waits behind a one inch slab of granite. He visits for fifteen minutes, then leaves.

Thursday. The flower delivery is late. The time is 10:55. I speed up the hill. A Lincoln Continental has just pulled up. I know a back way. I set the chair and the flowers. A petal drops to the ground and I pick it up and put it in my pocket. I hear his footsteps — shoes scraping each step as he shuffles his feeble legs up twenty granite stairs. I’m forced to hide around the corner. He visits for fifteen minutes, then peaks around the corner.

“The flower delivery was late. Sorry. I was trying to stay out of the way.”

The man smiles, sighs, and resumes the journey back to his car.

Today, one week after the last Thursday, the time is 11 am. There is no Lincoln. I carry flowers and an urn containing cremated remains up twenty granite steps. The interment takes fifteen minutes, then I leave.

Love by Lou Freshwater

The last time they made love she could feel the hint of pain and loss which would become her. There were still the moments of god she always knew with him, but there was a confusion that began to interrupt what had been the silence that could only be heard when she took someone she loved like that inside. When she took them inside of everything she was, will be, and had been. The last time they made love there was a strange separation, a fluid wall of water which could not be pushed or pulled or moved. She could only dig her nails into the warmth of him in order to quiet it, to calm it, to bully it. The last time they made love there was a her and a him, but always there was also them. The last time they made love she loved the smell of his unwashed hair, his statue calves, his blond eyes and soft and rough lips, the way he took control of her hips. She loved him in ways she could never make him believe. She loved him. The last time they made love she loved him so much she forgot to breathe. A moment which would become all she could think of, because the last time she made love to him she had no idea it would be the last time they made love.

You Said It by Marcus Speh

Jane, I didn’t send the book back. I should have. That’s what I did last time and the whole week after I’d sent it back, I wondered if they’d give me my money. When it arrived it was Friday and I felt as if I’d mislaid five days like a set of spare keys: not that I needed those five days back, and after all, it wasn’t anybody else’s fault, but that’s almost the entire time it took to create the world if you believe it. Or if you don’t, think of a week at work, right from Monday morning at the desk to Friday afternoon still at that damned desk. I know that’s not the same, Jane. No, I’m not trying to insult your god. I’m more comfortable with one of my work weeks than with a week in the life of the Lord, even if it’s the first week ever. I’m not blasphemous. I’m only trying to tell you that I didn’t send the book back which I ordered by mistake. I know I fucked up. You already told me last time. “I’m telling you for the last time”, you said then.

Anything Again by Claire King

Poised precisely at her table for one, she is immaculately groomed, her sunglasses by Chanel.

The waiter brings six oysters on a bed of crushed ice, placing them before her with an unwelcome flourish.

Minutes pass. Finally she lifts one shell, sips a little, then swallows the creature whole. As its saltiness slides down her throat she inhales its sulphur breeze. Like the last time her bare toes touched down on sand. When coastal gales blew hair across her smile and the horizon was wide.

The waiter brings toasted focaccia, piled with sautéed chanterelles.

She leans into the rising steam, turns the plate slowly – once, twice – then spears the mushrooms on silver tines and touches them to barely-parted lips. It is in her mouth again, the peaty earth where she buried her face the last time she was by his side. When they lifted her away screaming so the void could be filled before dark.

The waiter brings chocolate tart, glossy, almost black, perfectly central on oversized porcelain.

Someone once told her chocolate is addictive. That the physical pleasure from its chemical rush is like falling in love, like orgasm, like bliss. She pushes the spoon into her mouth and waits to feel anything again.

Monsieur Editor and Madame Malaprop by Frank Rasky

They slept in the same bed but that was all they had in common. He, an editor, had shelves filled with literary works and she, his wife of many years and never much of a reader, had strewn their apartment with Madeline children’s books.

“Good morning, Monsieur Editor,” she said, in her singsong of half English, half French. “Today’s menu is made of eggs du jour.”

He sighed, got up, adjusted his royal purple pyjamas, and said, “Thank you, Madame, but I think you meant to say eggs are ON the menu. A menu can’t be made of eggs.”

She smiled, kissed him on the cheek, and said, “Ecoutez, cherie. The kettle is perking. I’m making you café very au lait.”

He grunted, put on his polished leather slippers, and said, “Thank you, Madame, but I think you meant to say the kettle is BOILING. Coffee pots perk.”

She smiled, took him by the hand, and said, “Allez to the balcony for brekkie au soleil. ON the menu are croissants. No crumbs.”

He grimaced, but said nothing. She led him out onto the balcony. “Where’s breakfast?” he asked.

She stood behind him, and pushed. Over the railing he went, landing twenty stories down.

“Voila!”

She got a croissant and a copy of Madeline in Paris, returned to the balcony, and sat in the sun.

He was tout fini. She would illiterate him from memory.

“I tried to tell you, Monsieur Editor,” she said with ennui, munching her croissant. “No crumbs.”

Catacombs by Guy Yasko

I

The last time I was in Paris, I slept next to a piano and ate with
sopranos. I painted the bridges. (Everyone does.) I sketched in cafés
and bars.

– May I see it?

– Yes, of course.

II

We walked through Montparnasse and sat on a bench in January sun. “I
want to die there.” I meant another place, where she was from. I held
her hand.

III

I ran to answer when the phone rang. Wet footprints from the shower. I
told her I’d visit. I said I’d write.

Family by Al McDermid

The last time I saw my only brother, he was spitting mad, but refused to discuss it; the ‘slight’ was something not within my control. Our mother tried to reconcile us, to no avail, and so, I went my way and he went his. He died two years later, the bitterness still lingering.

The last time I saw my father, I saw a broken old man and not the terrorist that haunts my youth. I sat on his dusty couch while he talked about people I vaguely remembered or never knew, and his drunken caretaker harangued me about Jesus. A storm was moving in and the forecast was for ice, so I took that as my cue and left a day early. We speak on the phone every few months, whenever his heart acts up, and even though we never have anything to say, we still try to say it.

The last time I saw my grandfather was a perfect summer day. We fished for bluegills in a small lake of black water on land he used to own. I don’t remember what we spoke of and it hardly matters. After, we picked blueberries; I baked two pies and brought most of the fish home on the plane, frozen in a small cooler.

The last time I saw my mother, she was doing well despite her 90 years. We speak often and I’m careful that a cross word never passes between us, in case it is our last.

Back to Wk #18 – Lucky number

Forward to Wk #20 – Rivals

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