My story, “The Spaces Between Things,” which is in the current issue (17/18) of Electric Velocipede, is up for viewing online.
“David was in love with his aunt Masha. In the months after his father died, she came over for dinner often. While she ate, he’d watch her chest rise and fall, and for long, uncountable minutes he’d stare at the soft, pink skin of her arms, wanting to run his fingers along her smoothness and squeeze her until he fell asleep. He’d stuff forkfuls of mashed potatoes into his mouth and listen to his mother and aunt talk freely and harshly about people David barely knew. He’d study Masha’s green-within-green eyes, the chocolate folds of her hair, the funny way in which her nose curved just a little bit at the tip, as if God himself had laid a tiny imperfection upon her just to remind the world that she wasn’t an angel. But what most captured David’s attention, what his eyes wandered to as they’d finish dinner and move to the couch for coffee and cake, was the thick, brown leather belt that hugged her waist.
He knew the feelings in his body were the beginnings of manhood. But he was told that boys were supposed to like breasts and lips, butts and legs. And he did like those things—yet he couldn’t help but cross his legs when he saw her stomach bend under the thick leather strap, and nightly he dreamed of her smothering him as the heavy brass buckle pressed painfully into his groin. He pretended to listen to his mother and aunt, learning to nod his head when they looked his way, until he became skilled at predicting the paths of their eyes, at avoiding their gazes. And when the spell of conversation held the women in its thrall, when his mother’s words grew slow and stupid with wine, David stared deeply into the folds of Masha’s belt, studying the images stamped in its sides. He saw flowery jungles with fruit-bearing trees, a dozen birds hanging from limb and sky, and tufts of wavy, leafy vines that tangled throughout. Often, as the women talked, he imagined himself floating inside her belt, unable to escape its secret pull, forced forever to wander under its hot sun and glimpse out at all the world from the two-dimensional confines of her waist.
It was warm and safe there.
And so when his mother said, “Grandpa’s not doing very well. I need you to stay with your Aunt Masha for two weeks,” David nodded his affirmation as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. That year was 2056.”