Creative Colloquy is a submission based literary site.
It’s our aim to share Tacoma’s rich literary talents and foster relationships built upon our mutual admiration of the written word.
New Stories for 10/13/2014
Lost Blossoms by Patti Crouch
In the family portrait, my grandmother sits prim and pretty in a white party dress, hair fastened by bows, eyes solemn. Behind her is a wall of black suits, slick-haired brothers with faces like bulldogs. Her father stares at the camera, thin-eyed and well fed; her mother curves her shoulders forward, perhaps hunching around the baby whose long christening gown glows white against her black dress. The baby was an afterthought, raised once the sons had graduated and departed, the only daughter allowed an education. My grandmother went to work at twelve in a hat shop, crying for months as her dreams fell away like petals.
I imagine her behind a counter, ribbon in hand, dreaming of lights strung between trees, the swish of a silken dress, the lush chords of a band. After the war she married a gentle Swede whose service in the balloon corps let him float above the mud and carnage unscarred; they settled in a house rimmed with lilacs. I never knew my grandfather, who died while my mother was in college–a heart attack, she said, from working so hard to pay tuition.
Like all the Jansen women, my grandmother had beautiful skin, high cheekbones, a slightly bulbous nose. The only German things she retained were a stiff formality and the Christmas ornaments her mother brought over on the boat, four little birds made of silvery glass, glazed and sprinkled with glitter. Their tails were plumes of glass fibers, and each bird bobbed on a tiny spring soldered to a metal clip. My mother hung them at the very top of the tree, out of our reach, but still they wobbled sideways, the colored glaze chipping away year by year.
May 18th 1980 by Carl “Papa” Palmer
before the fall of the Berlin Wall witness white ash fallen on our blue BMW
blown across the Atlantic Ocean from Mt St Helens blowing her top in western
Washington USA over 8000 km away where we have orders for Ft Lewis Washington
wondering how far this military base is from the base of that erupting volcano covering
stubborn Harry Truman of Spirit Lake Lodge like Pompeii from Mount Vesuvius
along with other hazards we heard that had occurred in this earth quake shifting plate
region of the upper San Andreas Fault where yet another stubborn soul Tubby the three
pawed dog biting rather than abiding his would be rescuer from atop Galloping Gertie
The Origins of Petrichor: A Modern Tragedy by Ross Dohrmann
I am the painter and you one of two subjects, observing the scene as if watching a Greek tragedy. You recall that before the scene, you felt light and you heard my words, but they were empty in your ears. You did not feel my anger, but you saw it burst from the knots tied in the pit of my stomach like fireworks. There was nothing I could do to censor or control my actions, and so for a brief moment you left your body and let mine purge.
My eyes were red, moist, and hot, like freshly rinsed chili peppers. My posture was slumped, and my hands rested on my knees as I stooped to your eye level; you were sitting in the kitchen chair with your arms and legs crossed. The lights in the room were off and the overcast sky absconded the setting sun.
You looked at me with acquiescence. As I purged the negativity from the depths of my darkest caves, you began to realize that you were wrong. No, not that you were wrong, but that you were mistaken. You watched from your invisible pedestal and you closed your eyes, taking a deep lungful of all the air my body is releasing. It was hot air, unfriendly, unwavering, unbelievable –– but it was pure. You could not hear a word I was saying, but you saw my face contort. The muscles around my eyes and in my cheeks slacken, like soldiers after war. My face became a tragic mask, the emblem of pity and fear. Catharsis began to surface from beneath my anger; the purge was near completion.
Shattering by Annalise Thomas
“Are you sure about this?” you ask. Your hand is tentative on the elder’s arm, and you stumble as he guides you over a rocky patch of ground. The sword and heavy bag swing unbalanced on your hips. “I really don’t think I’m suited for this kind of thing.”
The elder pats your hand gently, patronizingly. “I am certain,” he replies. You wait for elaboration, maybe a few worn-out but generous words of inspiration, but he does not bother.
He slips away at the mouth of the cave, his bone-thin arm unsheathing from under yours. He leaves you with nothing but a murmured “good luck” that sounds more like “goodbye” and a lingering boiled-cabbage smell. You immediately decide that if you die, you won’t miss him. You refuse to miss anyone from your village. You almost hope the monster kills you, so the village will be indebted to your memory and forced to recant every mockery they’ve ever made of you—the price they should pay for trying to make a hero out of you. If you die, they’ll remember your sacrifice, but if you succeed they’ll laud you as a hero. There’s no downside, you tell yourself. Even if you don’t get the chance to do it yourself, somehow your story will be told.
Shell of a Mom by Jonah Barrett
We didn’t wanna come to the aquarium. We wanted to go to the boardwalk instead. The boardwalk had all kinds of gross rides and smelly food stands and cute boys with crooked teeth that smiled at you when you looked at them. Ava and I had saved up all month for this day out; we were going to get sick on the Zipper and eat crappy elephant ears and purchase shit clothing that we’d regret later that night. The aquarium didn’t have that. But that’s where we were.
“This’ll be great,” her mother said as we stood in line. Ivy. Glorious Ivy. Doing us a favor. An unwanted favor. “When was the last time you took me to the aquarium? I bet the belugas are all grown up by now.”
“I don’t care, Mom,” Ava rolled her eyes. Perfect stereotype of a spoiled fifteen year-old girl. Ava was really neither fifteen nor spoiled. But she played the part well. It was that attitude, that was how you made it in this world. I wondered if Ivy had been like that at our age.
Ava gave out a heavy sigh as soon as we got through the aquarium doors. I kept quiet, still embarrassed over the fact that Ivy had paid for my ticket. “Let me get it Sara,” she held her hand up as I started to protest, trying to be an adult for the first time.
“It’s only money,” she said. She smiled. Three adult tickets please. ADULT. But we weren’t adults, this was a play-date. This was something Ivy missed.