BY LAURA BROWN
Copyright is held by the author.
A DEAFENING metallic screech woke her from a deep late-winter sleep. She sprang up in alarm but was immediately thrown backward by a violent lurching movement. Struggling to her feet, without time for thought, she fled her home. She ran until she found shelter behind a wall. Thank God her children were grown and gone — there was no one left but her. The screeching continued, followed by several loud booms and a sickening vibration that ran through the ground. She shrank back, trying to compress her body into nothing. A harsh sound, like rhythmic wind gusts, arose and repeated and repeated, first close to her, then farther away. As the sound receded, she found the courage to peer over the wall. The home where she had raised her children was no more, in its place a choking cloud of dust.
One more screech, then silence. The only sound was the dust settling. She waited for what seemed like a very long time. Then, creeping out from behind the wall, she began to rebuild her web yet again.
THE LITTLE girl used to climb to the top of the stairs at night, switch off the hall light, lean against the banister, and look out the south-facing windows at the city lights down the hill. Looking out gave her a feeling that she loved. It seemed to her that she had spent hours gazing at the glittering lights while her parents were still downstairs.
Alone in the big house after her mother’s death, after a long day of lawyers, locksmiths, and electricians, the woman climbed to the top of the stairs, switched off the hall light, and leaned against the banister. But the trees around the house had grown so tall that she could no longer see the lights of the city below.
“How Could a Prince Like Me Have Such a Fucked-up Daughter?”
AFTER ALISON was diagnosed with HIV, her dad, retired mayor of Lake Success, New York, paid her rent and her utilities. Then she spent nearly her whole disability cheque on dope, an amount she supplemented by cat sitting.
This evening she lies on the kitchen floor, her left arm braced against the exposed-brick wall, her body cooling. A sterling silver spoon and a translucent purple lighter rest on the kitchen counter. Beside them, a syringe, surrounded by three empty glassine bags stamped with the words “Absolute Power.”
Laura Brown is a writer of fiction and nonfiction in New York, where she
volunteers as a dramaturge at Red Bull Theater and tries to maintain a
garden in the narrow, sunless area behind her apartment building. She is
the optimistic author of How to Write Anything: A Complete Guide (W.W.