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Issue number three




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Of roaring and wonder bread by Dawn Comer

There once lived a little girl named Kay. Kay, like all girls her age, wanted a bicycle. Kay did not want just any bicycle, she wanted a Mongoose. All the other little girls on Kay's street either had or wanted pink bicycles with white fake wicker baskets made of plastic, but Kay wanted a Mongoose.

One day Kay went to the mailbox to get the mail for her mother, and she opened the mailbox with the silver key her mother gave her right as the mailman was trying to push a package in from the back. He struggled very hard to push it in, for it was ten times the size of the mailbox, and Kay wondered why he didn't just hand the package to her. She didn't ask but instead stuck her hands in the box all the way to the back where the mailman was trying to push the package in. Taking hold of it firmly, Kay tugged with all her might and pulled the package through. "Thank you," she told the mailman, looking through the open mailbox to the back where she could see his plain face, screwed up in astonishment. Then she shut the mailbox and withdrew the key. She set the package on the ground and saw her name, Kay, written across the front in gold crayon. Across the street Mrs. M. stood on her balcony, looking down at Kay, who turned around and smiled instinctively.

The next day, the cardboard wrapping and Styrofoam peanuts had been thrown away and Kay could be seen riding her new bicycle. It wasn't the Mongoose she had hoped for, but, if anything, it was better. It was a Sony. Kay hadn't known that Sony made bicycles, but even she knew Sony was one of the best brands on the market. Everybody knew that, after all. Her Sony was metallic green, almost fluorescent at night, low to the ground with wide tires. Since Kay didn't have a helmet, her mother padded the inside of her father's yellow hard hat with toilet paper, strapped it on Kay's head, and sent her outside.

After hours spent under the bright June sun popping wheelies over speed bumps and racing down the hill towards the highway, Kay pulled her Sony up to Mrs. M's and removed her father's hard hat. Mrs. M's house was built out of seashells shipped in from either the Pacific or Atlantic ocean—Kay didn't know which—but they were the kind of seashells in which one could hear the ocean. The curved pink insides of the shells faced outwards, towards Kay and the rest of the world, and as Kay stood before Mrs. M's front door, the roar of the ocean nearly deafened her. For a moment, she felt she was drowning.

Mrs. M. opened the door and Kay looked up into her eyes, hidden by glasses which turned dark as the sun struck them. "I just wanted to thank you," Kay said. Mrs. M. said, "You're welcome," as she leaned down to pat Kay's head. As Mrs. M. backed into the shadows and drew the door closed, Kay watched her glasses turn clear again and noted the pink tint of her eyes.

"Is it alright?" Kay asked her mom who had always told her never to take gifts from strangers. Her mother, who was making tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches on Wonder bread, turned around. Kay thought she looked tired. Kay thought she had looked tired since the day her father had fallen asleep four years ago. Even the conch bowls on the table looked tired.

"Of course it's alright," her mother said, "so long as you love each other." She unwrapped a slice of processed cheese from its plastic wrapper and set it on a slice of Wonder. "You do love Mrs. M., don't you?" her mother asked, raising her head to look at Kay.

"Sure I do, Mom," Kay said.

"Then it's fine," her mother said as she ladled out the tomato soup.

Since receiving her MFA in creative writing from the University of Notre Dame, Dawn Comer has been teaching writing, most recently at Albion College in Albion, Michigan. She currently lives in East Lansing, Michigan, and has been working on a collection of short stories with an irreal bent.

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