First and Last Memories by Jennifer Marie Donahue

Editor Matty Byloos, Fiction, October 21st, 2014 the middle of a huge swarm of bees...

fiction by Jennifer Marie Donahue

The taste of marshmallows, half charred and black, mixes with chocolate melting on your tongue, everything sweet pooling together to coat the inside of your mouth in a sticky film. Crackling campfire spitting spirits, little fire dancers leap into the air, mesmerizing shapes appearing inside those orange, blue-green tongues of flame… a dragon soars up only to consume itself. The ground feels hard but eternally warm. On blankets under the canopy of large swaying trees, swishing in the same wind that blows across your face, your mother laughs. Your head rests on her lap and the vibration of her laugh travels through you, runs along your scalp in a shiver. Curled in the comfort of that warmth between the two of them, your parents, the world is only three. Your father rubs your socked feet, gently pulling on your toes. Light dances across his face as your mother’s shadow imprints on him. In the absent void of cars, sirens, and all the sounds of home, your ears run with the chirp of crickets, and the scuttling, creaking life of the woods that hovers on the periphery. Just below this sound calls a thread of the river, gurgling in a low voice so soft that it sounds like a chanting group. You look up to the dome of sky, to marvel how in the darkness a thousand stars twinkle in unison.

It will rain. This asphalt will release all the dirt and oil it has been clutching down deep. Those clouds, gathering like ominous soldiers to the west will bring it here, a gift. This is what it must feel like to be standing right in the middle of a huge swarm of bees or locusts with their little wings flapping in a deafening unison. This air is directionless. It is like running in-between raindrops, stand still and see how long till they strike your head, a giant stream. It doesn’t matter if you run or walk, close your eyes or go wide open. Brakes, screeching, glass and metal. All the colors converge. Red – stoplight, apple, the harvest moon, a fire engine, a cardinal in the guise of your long dead grandmother. Orange – the fruit, a sinking ball of sun, day lilies, orchids and the tiny speck of pollen floating away. Yellow – daffodils, sand, bananas, corn, these lines of lightning. Green – grass, cabbage, lettuce, trashcans, how copper fades, the truck that strikes you. Blue – sky, water, veins, blankets, your eyes.

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Jennifer Marie DonahueJennifer Marie Donahue was born in Virginia, but now resides in Massachusetts with her husband and their two children. Her work has appeared at Necessary Fiction, Neon and The Northville Review. Her novel, Riding the Blind, was a semi-finalist in the James Jones First Novel competition. She is currently hard at work on a novel-in-stories.


Matty Byloos

Matty Byloos is Co-Publisher and a Contributing Editor for NAILED. He was born 7 days after his older twin brother, Kevin Byloos. He is the author of 2 books, including the novel in stories, ROPE ('14 SDP), and the collection of short stories, Don't Smell the Floss ('09 Write Bloody Books).