“Omphaloskepsis” by Nina Puro
Thursdaze (because the weekend won’t come fast enough) features original flash fiction modeled after our Drug Chronicles Series. Each story is an original one, and each encapsulates the author’s fictional experience with drugs. Our print series has anthologized authors writing about marijuana, cocaine, speed, and heroin, but contributors to the web series can focus on any drug, real or imagined, controlled or prescribed, illegal or soon-to-be legalized. Submissions to Thursdaze will be judged on an author’s ability to stylistically emulate his or her substance of choice. Submissions are also limited to 750 words, so try to focus. (They have a pill for that.)
This week, Nina Puro tells us all about heroin-induced omphaloskepsis.
n., contemplation of one’s navel as an aid to meditation.
Leaving you was like the way some doors have to be open a bit to lock. Meeting you was an accidental brush at the nape of the neck in a crowd: that thrum coupled with fear. To know each other, we need to take something in together; to trust, we must pass dangerous objects, sharp or burning, palm to cupped palm. We talk this way. We also talk by forming additional symbols with our emptied hands.
The symbol that means okay is the thumb and index finger pressing a circle, the other digits splayed upwards. The symbol that means I love you is a fist with the middle finger raised.
The buzz of the spoon held under the lighter. The needle & thread to stitch us up. (Maybe I know how to moderate all this because I’ve quit things before, though. Maybe we just do this a lot & it’s okay. Maybe we’re just learning how to love.) There is some human urge that weds consumption & compulsion. Lockjawed & horned: you & I, it & me.
Maybe, if we’re lucky, we just get to choose the substance. (Okay, let’s talk about moderation & how much Protestant morality is in that. Let’s talk about the symbol for hello versus the symbol for goodbye versus the symbol for help.) We are alive inside the wreck. We are alone inside the wreck. We sway gently back & forth, our voices greened by seaweed. For all of me that’s dying, my tongue is dying soonest. It’s taking my skin with it, almost as fast.
We are moving very fast past big-box stores, screaming though yellow lights. I tell all the cars that cut us off how much I love them.
Our blurred faces in the streetlights sharply crosscut, as if in anatomical plates. (I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay damnit.) Things are supposed to change when the fear of the known is greater than the fear of the unknown. But that happened a long time ago.
NINA PURO’s work is forthcoming or recently appeared in The Journal, Cream City Review, Pleiades, and Third Coast. She received an MFA in Poetry from Syracuse University and lives in Brooklyn, New York. She is bad at thinking of clever things to put in places like this.
Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Thursdaze flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your submission should never have been published elsewhere.
—Your story should feature a drug, any drug, and your character’s experience with it. We’ll consider everything from caffeine to opium, and look forward to stories ranging from casual use to addiction to recovery. Stylistically, we’ll respond most favorable to stories that capture the mood and rhythm of your drug of choice.
—Include your drug of choice next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected], and include THURSDAZE in the subject line. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
About the Drug Chronicles Series: Inspired by the ongoing international success of the city-based Akashic Noir Series, Akashic created the Drug Chronicles Series. The anthologies in the series feature original short stories from acclaimed authors, each of whom focuses on their fictional experience with the title drug. Current releases in the series include The Speed Chronicles (Sherman Alexie, William T. Vollmann, Megan Abbott, James Franco, Beth Lisick, Tao Lin, etc.), The Cocaine Chronicles (Lee Child, Laura Lippman, etc.), The Heroin Chronicles (Eric Bogosian, Jerry Stahl, Lydia Lunch, etc.), and The Marijuana Chronicles (Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Linda Yablonsky, etc.).
Posted: Dec 19, 2013
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