Monthly Archives: October 2015

Another Letter

By Kathryn A. Kopple

 

Dear Marcel,

I woke up today terrified the electro-magnetic field had flipped. The air burned. My sheets were scorching. I’m better now but only because I’ve lathered myself in oils pressed from three-hundred-year-old cacti. Cactus oil costs a fortune. I get mine on the black market.

How I despise this season. It’s as sloppy wet underfoot as Venice when she finally sank into the ocean, despite all attempts to hoist her up with propulsion and anti-gravity devices. She sank any way, and with her the most beautiful man I have known.

Yes, Marcel, yes. He is gone. I should be used to it by now. The only man I ever loved, leaving me behind in this melt, slosh, that by midday starts to let off steam. It’s unbearable. The ozone layer stretched thin and the sun behaving erratically. I was under the impression that the sun destroyed and remade the ozone layer every day, at least that’s what scientists said a century ago when we were still calling ourselves a country. Of course, that was before the last civil war. Or was it the one before? It’s so vaporous around here. Rancid smelling. Who can remember anything in this sauna?

But why complain while the world is sinking, burning, tearing itself apart? What good does it do? I think of him instead. My mind flees to him instead. My body is a map of all the places he touched me. I trace the travels of his fingers, his tongue. He saved me from the heat, this interminable fire. He never ran hot, always cold. It was wonderful to lie with my cheek on his icy chest, listening to his slow beating heart.

When I was a child, I would crawl into the caves near our house to get away from the heat. It was damp and mossy under the rocks. The air chill. A dark, cold space. That was my love. He was my dark, cold retreat from this inferno we call earth.

Marcel, I can’t go on like this. I am exhausted. I need to close my eyes, sleep. But, I am in anguish. I think of the ocean carrying him far from me. I imagine the moment the water took him, the wonderful coldness of his being sucked from his body as the sweltering waves pulled him under. Did he die of drowning or boiling? I must sound as if I am raving asking such a senseless question. It’s just that I am so feverishly warm without him.

Have I made you sad? Don’t cry, Marcel. Don’t cry. It’s difficult, so hard. You loved him too. I know. And he loved you.

Trini

 

Kathryn A. Kopple works in Spanish and English. There are few literary genres in which she has not translated or tried her hand. Her most recent poetry publication appears in Bellevue Literary Review (Fragile Environments Issue, 2014). She is also the author of Little Velásquez, a novel set in 15th century Spain.

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Imprint

By Lynn Abramson

 

The one they called Kumbuka—Remember—reclined against a rock. Opened her eyes, closed them. Let sun in, shut it out. Chewed straw, let it dangle, let it drop.

The air hung thick. Punctuated by the gnish, gnash of insects. The pitter! pitter! pitter! of birds. The humf of the gorillas. The waaarl eeeheee waarl waaaaaarl from the other side.

On the other side, the humans fussed. Mothers shushed sons, snatched at hands that tapped the glass. Fathers hoisted daughters onto their shoulders. One mother ran about looking for her son, a mischievous boy who had slipped away.

To the gorilla, they were smells and sounds. Flower? Food? Fauna? Always there, except at night, they retreated. In the space they left behind she’d recall something. Not quite a memory, an imprint. Motion. Trees rustling … birds fluttering … water gushing, frogs springing, wind rushing, leopards leaping, her blood pulsing thick and strong. And then the sun would rise, and she’d sink back into the hazy day.

Several paces away, her son, the one called Karibu—Welcome—dug holes in the earth with a stick. Found insects, ate them. Kumbuka roused herself from the rock. Lumbered through the clearing, collecting kale, bananas, beets. Satiated, she settled in the shade. Squinted at light oozing through the trees. Karibu came to her. Nuzzled. Picked at her fur.

And then, a scent. Familiar but foreign. She looked up.

If the mother’s screams had resonated with the gorilla, perhaps they would have triggered some shared maternal instinct.

To Kumbuka, the creature above was too close. A threat. Something left behind inside her was stirred.

She stood. The others stood. Moved inwards. Thumped their chests. Grunted. Humf! Humf!

The boy reached for them. Fell from his perch, smacked through tree limbs onto the packed earth. Lay unmoving. The mother crumpled, an animal moan escaping from her.

The gorillas paused. An energy passed among them.

Karibu bounded to meet the creature.

Humf, humf! Kumbuka tried to warn him, her blood pulsing. But Karibu was up-up-up! And then—collapsed.

Kumbuka went. Green rush, swish, snap, humf, up-up-up! Pain.

The humans rushed in, tranquilizer guns drawn.

Kumbuka dreamt of trees rustling.

Lynn Abramson lives with her husband and son in the Washington, D.C. metro region, where she works in energy policy. In past lives, she has wrestled sediment traps in the Mediterranean Sea and floor charts in Senate hearings. This is her first published work of fiction.

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CRISPR

By Timothy A. Clements

 

It appears your daughter has precursors for Alzheimer’s,” the doctor said coldly, “you don’t want your daughter to have to deal with that someday, do you?” he asked.

Of course not,” the crying mother bellowed, “but what can we do?”

While the father chastised the doctor for his lack of empathy and distant demeanor, the doctor removed a key from his white coat pocket and unlocked the lower drawer of his desk. From it he retrieved a metal business card and handed it across his desk, to the desperate soon-to-be parents before him. The father took it.

What is this?” he asked, “What is CRISPR?”

CRISPR,” the doctor began, “is a cutting edge DNA therapy that will soon be approved by the Chinese Food and Drug Administration.”

What kind of therapy?” the mother asked, “how can you give an unborn baby therapy?”

And China?” the father asked, “Why don’t we have it here?”

CRISPR was perfected by the Chinese nearly ten years ago, but due to its controversy it only recently was approved for human trials. All indications point to its legalization within the year. It’s been highly effective in embryos.”

But what is it? And embryos aren’t people,” the father bellowed.

About thirty years ago scientists in the states discovered bacteria that carries a particular virus,” the doctor explained, “To put it simply, biologists can manipulate the bacteria and make it attack bad DNA. Once eliminated, new, healthy DNA can be re-introduced and fill in. It’s simple and easy.”

If it’s so simple and easy why are we just now hearing about this?” the father asked.

The controversial status of CRISPR makes it a hot-button issue, and nobody in office will go near it. They’ll lose the religious vote. They were very vocal against potential embryo trials here, do you really think they are going to approve human trials?”

Is it safe?” the mother asked. She shifted in her seat and leaned forward, hanging on every word the doctor produced.

Very much so,” the doctor replied, “but expensive. And your insurance won’t cover it. That card will connect you with an answering service; ask for Dr. Ming.”

How much?” the father queried.

Thousands,” the doctor quoted plainly, “but a lifetime of happiness and health for your baby—absolutely priceless.”

Money doesn’t matter; it’s my baby!” the worried mother told her husband as she grabbed his knee in a sort of quiet desperation.

I want the best for her too,” he said, tears building in his eyes, “but we don’t know anything about this.” The father slouched down in the chair where he sat, placing his thumbs and forefingers across his head and brows.

I don’t care,” she said with pure confidence, “if the doctor said it’s safe, then it’s safe.”

Absolutely,” the doctor offered, “absolutely safe.”

What are you getting out of this?” the husband asked the doctor, glaring.

A mere finder’s fee,” he promised, “but very small, I assure you. I am only a facilitator, and your wife’s gynecologist, I only want the best for her, and the baby.”

This is serious honey,” he pleaded, “there’s no coming back from this.”

We’re doing this,” she scolded him, now sitting straight as a board and peering through his eyes to the wall behind him, “or we’re not coming back from this.”

The doctor smiled; “You’re going to make great parents.”

 

Timothy A. Clements is a writer, photographer, and aspiring filmmaker. While predominantly identifying as a fiction writer, it was his nonfiction memoir piece “Petty is Dead” that first earned him publication. Currently he is working on a feature-length film script based on one of his short stories.

 

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