Issue 1 Issue 1 Fiction

5 Stories

By Leila Register

Guest Room 

I hate this chair and this awful room. Nothing is where it should be. I’m having a hard time. People talk all day about pets and jewelry and lunch. Everywhere an ugly crisis. Dead birds under the highway. Gray kitchens. Computer screens. A man chasing ducks in the snow refuses to see me. Life goes on people say. What does that have to do with anything?


Paint by Numbers 

All these plans and outfits for what. Tedious dramas. Drinks before drinks. Red wine gone bad. Lent my favorite book to a man in love. Bought new shoes from a teenager. Everything disgusts me. I’m at the bar again. Paul Simon plays over an invisible speaker and I agree. I don’t find this stuff amusing anymore. I think wearing blush and waiting for someone are two of life’s greatest indignities. I think I should stop calling everything a crisis of personhood. I’m trying too hard always. I make a list of everything fun. Can barely read my own handwriting: food with too much salt, men I’ve never met. I leave the bar drunk drunk drunk. Go home. Watch Painting with John. His drone crashes into a tree at the opening credits. TV buffers before the show really starts. I hear “Bob Ross was wrong!” then nothing at all. 



I bought you a book at the bookstore. Inside of it are paintings of wild colors. The man who made the paintings was born in New York City. He fought in World War Two. He paints landscapes. He makes the sea bright purple. He makes mountains neon. He lives in Santa Cruz, California and has learned to surf. He teaches children about his wild colors. He has an easy life. The bookseller was kind enough to wrap the book for me. Even tied a bow around it. On the way to your house I practice telling you about the man. I realize I don’t know his name. Or the name of the book. I only remember the purple sea, the neon mountains, the new easy life. 


Postal Service 

In the movie there’s a drug that helps with awe. I am not feeling good or articulate. I’m distracted after three drinks. Am forced to confront my ordinary haircut. There’s nothing exciting on my face. I’m not spectacular in that way or wild enough. When did my life become this. You have to laugh everyone tells me. I’m trying. Glenn says the mail hasn’t come in a month, says he had to drive over to Ralph McGill and talk to the guy in charge. Recommended I do the same which no thank you. I have trouble putting my foot down. Always feel wrong. Have never successfully negotiated the price of furniture. I keep saying yes for some reason. I’m far from home. My dad is worried. I tell him the weather isn’t so bad over here. Big giant red blob coming he says. Ok I say back. I’m drunk. Pass out on the floor again. Wake up next to a postcard from a gas station in Delaware: a man lies dead in the sand, seagulls pecking at his eyes.



Marjorie’s been drunk for three days straight. Falls asleep everyday around 3PM while Frank does the crossword and makes up stories to tell her. It helps his brain, doing two things at once. Today the story was about a man named Peter the Mortician and 42 across what’s a three letter word for mimic. Marjorie’s been sneaking sips of vodka from the freezer in the laundry room. It’s easy to sneak from because it’s in the back of the house. Frank only goes in there to get the drill or wrench every time something breaks which is rarely. Frank’s tools live in the cabinet above the washing machine. Marjorie doesn’t like using the word live about tools but she once heard a home organization expert say it in a video on YouTube and now it’s stuck in her head. The expert was teaching a couple in Tulsa about clutter-free life. Asked the wife where she wanted her crafts to live. Explained how using human verbs for objects would help the wife treat her crafts more respectfully instead of shoving them every which way into a drawer. Marjorie doesn’t remember the end of the video, but she does remember the wife’s shirt was so ugly it made her laugh. Turquoise and white stripes with a bedazzled flower where a chest pocket might go. After the video Marjorie thought it’s sad how helpless some people can be. She practices using the word live for objects. Frank’s tools live in the cabinet. The cabinet lives in the laundry room. The laundry room lives in the house, and the house lives thirty miles away from the closest bus station. To tell the truth Marjorie’s been sneaking more than sips from the laundry room freezer. It started as sips but now it’s more like gulps. Sometimes the gulps last ten seconds, sometimes up to fifteen.

Leila Register is a designer based in New York. On her desk is a framed print of a speech bubble that says “As If I Wasn’t Embarrassed Enough.” Her writing has appeared in Hobart, Rejection Letters, and Maudlin House