and The Snow Ballet
It's the worse magic show you've ever seen. Instead of a rabbit, the magician pulls a handful of reeking seaweed from his hat. He forgets to put the lovely lady he was to saw in half inside the box. In the end, the auditorium has to be evacuated when the curtains catch fire during the big finale. Later, at an all-night diner on the edge of town, the magician is undaunted. "Magic," he explains between sips of coffee, "is like writing a poem. When it's good, you never quite know how it's going to come out." The sirens are growing louder. "Gotta run," he says and leaves you with the bill.
It seemed a good idea at the time, rushing headlong into the desert sword-a-screaming. But you don't figure on the heat, the thirst, the disappointment of the oasis. You can swear you've passed that rock a thousand times already, that the whole fucking desert has but one goddamn cactus.
At the start of every trick, there's a hand to choose, a card to pick, a fork in the road. And although you know you're going to be fooled, you're fooled all the same. The problem is choosing, but not choosing is no solution. "Watch me," the doctor says, reaching between Mommy's legs, "pull a rabbit out of this hat." It's sleight of hand, alright, and there you are, not tricked but the trick hidden in plain sight. You are the very rabbit itself.
The Snow Ballet
"What in God's name are you doing out there?" she yelled from the back door. He was stalking around the yard, barefoot, in his striped pajamas as if he were performing a kind of experimental ballet.
"I'm catching fireflies," he yelled back, "what does it look like I'm doing? The hokey pokey?"
"You damn fool," she yelled. "There aren't any fireflies out there. It's snowing."
"Says you," he said, holding up his empty mayonnaise jar. "And leave God out of this."
"Suit yourself," she screamed, "but don't expect me to nurse you back to health if you catch your death of cold."
She retreated back into the house, slamming the door behind her with a bang.
Our marriage isn't perfect, I thought to myself, but in my worst nightmares I couldn't foresee it ever coming to something like this.
"What's all the commotion out there," my husband asked from the couch when I returned to the living room with a cup of mint tea. He held out the remote and thumbed the mute button.
I wanted to say, "Martin's out in the snow with a jar trying to catch fireflies and Sylvia is giving him hell about it."
Instead what came out of my mouth were the terrific terms you'd get leasing a new Toyota. "But you have to act now," I heard myself saying. "A deal this good won't last forever."
Meeah Williams is the author of two short story collections, 101 Sex Positions of the Dead and the forthcoming Bad Pussy. She is also the author of The 13 Doors of X and Geisha in the City of Death, both of which can be read online. Her work has appeared widely in many small, smaller, and virtually non-existent literary publications. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, in a state of perpetual but grateful surprise to be loved by one cat and one husband.