Fresh Off the Vine
Within the garden they pick fish off the vines, fresh and shimmering. The ripest ones barely struggle, but fall apart on the bone, rainbow scales scattering like sharp petals on the watery pavement. Soft-skinned children gather them by the basketful, their daily duty. Bubbles trailing behind, they propel to waterlog-framed houses with a home-grown dinner. No doors can open, no windows can close.
Those who drift without lodgings sleep over the post office foundation, near the old clock tower, floating inches off the dirt. Sometimes they tie themselves to bike racks, in case a current carries them afar. They stretch and mumble morning greetings, water tangling in their vocal chords. Whatever needs to be said, has already been said.
Shadows of waterfowl pass over like oblong clouds, light shining through webbed feet. Light shines through the fingers of the soft-skinned children too–gossamer water threads trailing, bony knuckles peeking through. They avoid the graveyard, stones slick with algae and silt. Fish don’t grow there on the vine. The garden flourishes elsewhere, as many fish as they can carry.
Librarian, mother, and minor trickster, Janna has published in SmokeLong Quarterly, Cheap Pop, Whale Road Review, Best Microfiction 2023, and others. Her story collection, All Lovers Burn at the End of the World is forthcoming from SLJ Editions in 2024. Generally, if the toaster blows up, it is not her fault.
The Ekphrastic Review
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