Across The Wire Vol. 2


By David Williamson

The day Rosie was sick and stayed home from school, her daddy stayed too. He worked from his home office and sat in his chair and clicked on his laptop and looked at reports. Every few minutes his hand reached down and ruffled Buck’s golden doggy ears. Automatic, unthinking affection. 

Because he had to work most of the day, Rosie could do whatever she wanted. All morning she streamed musicals on her tablet. When her eyes dried out and started to itch, she switched off her tablet and plugged it into the charging station in the kitchen. 

She pulled a near-full gallon of milk out of the fridge, poured four giant glugs into a plastic salad bowl, squeezed eight seconds of chocolate syrup into the milk, and whisked it up until it frothed. She put the bowl on the ground, crouched on all fours, and lapped it up like Buck would do with his water, but it didn’t make her feel like a dog.

Rosie grew tired. 

Her bed faced the windows in her room, but too much sun came through for her to sleep. It cut chaotic scraps of light all over her bed like the throw-away parts of a paper snowflake. 

She gathered up a thick quilt, her pillow, and armfuls of her stuffed animal friends – Night-Night Bunny, Team Owl, Ogre, Jelly, others – and carried them into the bathroom, lined the tub with them and climbed in. The curtain screeched as she closed it. She lay in the tub thinking about chasing squirrels in the backyard until she fell asleep. 

When she woke up, the first thing she saw was a giant chrome cobra hanging over her. She shrieked, then remembered she made a bed in the tub, and the cobra was just the showerhead. She climbed out of the tub and called for her daddy. He didn’t answer even when she knocked on the closed door to his office. 

She moved like a ghost through the hallways, down the stairs, in and out of rooms.

Daddy, where are you? bounced off the walls. 

She ran back to the office and threw open the door.  Her daddy’s chair was gone. Where his desk should have been was a cardboard box instead, sealed with rainbow-colored tape. 

The insides of her body rattled. She floated through the house again, calling Daddy! but there was no Daddy, and – a thing she hadn’t noticed a moment before – there was no furniture. No pictures on the walls. No charging station in the kitchen. No tablet. A house emptied of everything but her and the box. 

She went to her daddy’s office and picked up the box. The rattling in her body, now a steady vibration. Her fingers trembled so the tape was hard to peel at first, but once she got a corner free, it came off in colorful strips. 

Inside was a miniature stuffed version of herself. She and the tiny Rosie even wore the same clothes: purple pajama pants and a t-shirt that read “Good Vibes Only.” The tiny Rosie clasped a rolled-up piece of paper in her tiny, stuffed-toy hands.

The real, life-sized Rosie unrolled the paper and read the message typed on her father’s official letterhead. 

Dearest Rosie,

I looked for you but couldn’t find you. Just this miniature stuffed version of you in the tub. I looked for you in your closet and in the crawl space. I looked for you in the attic and inside Buck’s doghouse in the backyard. I called your name, but you didn’t answer. I looked for you in the linen closet and the small cupboard where only your little body could fit. I looked for you in the sofa cushions and in the trunk of the car. I looked for you in the neighbors’ houses and under their beds and in their cupboards. I called the police, and they looked for you in the sewers and the woods and the tree forts that the neighborhood kids build. They looked for you at the school and the playground and at the bottom of the pool at the community center. They looked for you inside of wells, as children your size can fall into them, but you weren’t anywhere.

I don’t know how I could have missed you. Why did you leave? It’s been so long. I’ve gone now, still looking for you. I miss you terribly. 

Lots of love,


He signed the letter in his official-looking signature. 

Rosie felt too sad to cry. She rolled the letter back up and hugged the tiny Rosie. Then she went downstairs, opened the front door, and walked into the yard. The grass under her feet was soft and fine like Buck’s doggy fur. The giant maple tree with leaves that caught fire in the autumn was now a thick column of knotted yarn. Wisps of batting poked out where the knitted bark came loose. Buck curled up in the corner of the yard, billowy and still. His eyes, hard disks of glass. The neighbors’ houses were enormous downy things that looked as soft as marshmallows. The sky was an unrolled bolt of felt. Clouds of stuffing hung down from fishing lines, and the sun was a bright golden pillow. 

Everything was stuffed except for her body. She felt the bones inside her arms, the tremors running through her muscles. The organs inside her hardened and squirmed as if she were hungry. 

She cradled the stuffed version of herself, lay down on the fluffy grass, and shut her eyes. Moments later she fell asleep and dreamed of her daddy at his desk, clicking away on his laptop, his head, inches from the monitor. His lips muttered words, but she couldn’t tell what he was saying. She called out to him from the doorway, but whatever words each said never reached the other. Their speech came out too softly. Whispers in cotton.

David Williamson is a writer living and working in Richmond, VA with with his family and a whole bunch of animals. Williamson’s stories are forthcoming or have been published in Short Story, Long, X-R-A-Y, BULL, Maudlin House, HAD, and others.

Issue 1 Issue 1 Fiction

A Found Thing

By David Williamson

The floor under the trampolines was mud and ooze. All gas and suction and smelling like vomit. Caleb gagged, slid across the slickness on all fours, shook his head, and recovered his sense of balance, orientation.

It was Todd’s birthday and Caleb had been invited to celebrate at the indoor trampoline park. Just moments before he was chasing a rogue dodgeball that went sailing over his head and cleared the trampoline’s parapet. He knew the word parapet because he misspelled it on a vocabulary test just last week. He ran halfway up the slanted wall, which was also a trampoline, leapt, grabbed the top edge, and hoisted himself over. It was something he couldn’t do last year when he was only nine, but pride rushed out of him when he cleared the top edge, and his body fell for entire seconds (seconds!) before hitting the mud floor.

Now, he could only see by what light seeped through the tiny breathable holes of the woven trampoline material several yards above his head. The indentations of feet from jumping bodies stretched down to him like nightmares trying to break through. 

Caleb shook the excess globs of whatever from his hands, his forearms, elbows. Dodgeballs, partially submerged in the mud, looked like swollen eggs, something alien, and – another vocab word – secreting.

In all directions was just mud and balls and horrible feet coming down at him and support beams holding up the trampolines above him. No walls. No ladder back to the top. No way out.

He called up through the trampolines, but his voice was drowned out by the joyous screams and laughter.

Then a horrible gripping fear tightened in his chest

I can’t get out. Are they looking for me? Do they know I’m gone? How long have I been down here? Has Mom given up and gone back home?

He waited for a response. The descending feet answered with a stretchy distressed yawn, coming down impossibly close to his head. He tried to smack them, to get their attention, but they retracted too quickly.

He couldn’t remember if you could see beneath the trampolines, not even when you were down on the concrete floor of the trampoline park. He started not remembering other things too, but he forgot what they were. Something was stealing things from his brain. It was like a vacuum hose pressed against the crown of his head, and every few seconds a clot of some memory would dislodge and fly out of his mind like…like something.

Do they notice my goneness? Am I missing a something? A search party? My search party I’m missing? 

His feet suctioned in the muddy stuff when he walked. 

“Do you know the way?” It was a girl smaller than him. She wasn’t there before. “I can’t find the way.” 

“No,” he said.

“I’ve been here so long. They’ve left. They can’t find me. Gave up.”

“No,” he said. “They’ll come. What’s your name?”

The girl rubbed her face. She looked like she was from a different time. There was fresh muddy stuff on her too, slicked-over layers that had crusted over, dried and cracked. 

He was about to tell her his name to encourage her, but it didn’t come to him right away, so he reached out his hand instead. He felt like a big brother. Someone who had to be brave. “Do you have a name?”

The girl shrugged.

“You don’t know?”

“I think I do, but I forget.”

“Here,” he said, careful not to let his voice quiver. “We’ll find the way together.”

They walked a few steps, and then he stopped. “I don’t think we should go much further. We should stay where we are. When you’re lost, you should stay where you are until someone finds you.”

“I’m too far already, I think.”

The boy lifted one foot out of the muddy suck, then the other. He tried to think of questions to ask, but none came. What good was he?

They waited.

She stopped crying but looked as if she’d start again. 

“Maybe we could sing a song,” Caleb said.

“Do you know one?”

The boy started to sing but lost the tune. It was right there, but he couldn’t grab it.

“Do you know a song?” he asked.

The girl pulled something small out of her pocket, put it back. “What?”

“I don’t know.”

A hole ripped open above them and light poured in. The boy and the girl squinted at the brilliance. When his eyes adjusted, he said, “Look.” 

Men descended on ropes. “Caleb,” they hollered. 

The boy looked at the girl who just shrugged. “You?” he asked.

“I don’t think so?” she said. 

“CALEB. CAAALEB! Where are you? Take my hand!”

“Here?” he said. “Here?” Then, with more confidence. “Here. I’m here. I am here!”

The boy smiled to the girl. “They’re here.”

“Those aren’t mine,” she said. Sadness fixed on her face like the mud that dried in shells around her knees, the slope of her chin.

Maybe she had strayed too far. She had wandered so long, from another trampoline park, maybe from another town, another world. Maybe not a trampoline park at all. The boy could see that something had once lit up her face but was now gone forever. So, what could he do?

The boy reached up and felt a strong grip on his forearm. He was lifted out of the mud. He clung to the man’s arm and ascended into blinding white light above his head. The chill slipped from his skin, and the boy was glad when he could make out the faces of his rescuers in the warm buzzing light.

He couldn’t tell how he knew, but he felt as if he were about to go somewhere he wanted to go. There was something pulling him toward something he wanted to see. Maybe someone. His brain felt heavy and gray as he strained toward an electric, exciting new thing. Some kind of relief. He didn’t know for sure, but it didn’t matter. From here on out, he was a found thing, and he carried this knowledge with him, indelible on his heart. 

David Williamson is a writer living and working in Richmond, VA with with his family and a whole bunch of animals. Williamson’s stories have been published in X-R-A-Y, BULL, Maudlin House, HAD, and others.