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Fiction by Vanessa Place
Art 'Lilith on the Stairs' by Daniel Y. Harris
'Lilith on the Stairs' © 2007 Daniel Y. Harris

3Meanwhile, a boy in a hoodie sweatshirt came up to the bus stop across the way. He was about thirteen or fourteen, though hard to say, his face was babied with cheeks that balled all on their own, eyes that slanted down sharp at the corners, and a big old lower lip barely kept hinged to his chin, always set on sulk. He was a six-pack kid, lumpy in the altogether, bigassed and swaybacked, but his skin was satin and his hands pink and fresh as the inside of his eyes. He held two pieces of warm toast, one in each hand, trying to eat them fast as possible, before the butter, put on thick like he liked it, got too cold, there’s nothing worse than hot melting butter congealing on toast, alternating left to right, he took bites as big as his mouth, bites so big he was barely able to chew and had to breathe through his teeth, around the bread filling his palate and breaking on his tongue, but his happiness was complete with each large mouthful, there was nothing more to be done but suck and swallow and wiggle your lowercase in clean-sheeted joy.

The sun was coming up gray and yellow and warning of orange and pieces were starting to show in the street, a black knit cap tirepressed near the gutter, a few used Mexicali phone cards, scattered by a booth, the booth stuck with stickers, red green and white, adverting minutos and low rates everywhere else, the change slot fingered so random regular the slot door put permanently up, some stomped packets of ketchup and red chili sauce by the crosswalk, the standard detritus of Pennysaver papers and Dominos circulars, of dog gone flyers and body shop cards, a torn bit of Beyoncé, a clear plastic lighter, a couple crumped MGB cans. There was a brass-colored token from a Vegas casino – the one with the lion – and an exhausted white condom. A third of a broken broom handle, three bottle caps and what looked like a silver bullet but was some kind of gloss or stick for lips. A large powdery cricket scutted across the sidewalk and into the street. One of the ravens that hung about kreeking flapped down and started pecking at the cool crust of a MickeyD hot apple pie, as a pair of large white Pumas, tied together by long laces, dangled from the line overhead.

“Blessed be, brother,” said a passerby to another, who agreed, neither hearing the “Where’re you from” aimed at the boy at the bus stop, whose mouth was too full of toast to respond.

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last update: July 2, 2007