She started at the departure gate—blacked out, the blank space amplified by the endless line of mirrored hallways, the aluminum-edged escalator, its teeth the oily mouth of the silent room. Her body a ridged skeleton in a coffin too big, she tried to find comfort in the touch of stuffing herself to sleep between the arm rails of a vinyl bench, but it was submerged in the giant bank of windows, each pane curled like fingers into the rafters, the coldness of the city at her back. She wanted to be a shadow, an animal playing dead, until the sun broke open the breathing world.
“You been mistaking the forest for the trees since the day you struck your momma down,” her grandmother rasped into the phone, when Emily said she was returning to Montgomery, returning to the drag of her grandmother’s slack-knee house, its tabby cats and French hens.
She remembered being eight years old, one of many Campfire Girls, walking to the bathroom two-by-two, like animals headed for the ark, both born of the night, only the light of the moon to move them. Emily sighed. There were still thirteen hours to the end, and she couldn’t while them away pretending to be a stone in a cave. So she walked the escalator downstairs, her boots and suitcase barreling the teeth blunt, and found a bench at the arrival gate, racked by fluorescent lights, posters of Mardi Gras masks, of people in the narrow streets, outlined in beads, the churning metal of the baggage belt, strangers dressed mostly in flannel and jeans, waiting for taxis within the airport’s warm belly. Continue reading
And Clouds Made of Bones
A play in one act
AND CLOUDS MADE OF BONES was originally produced by Firehouse Theatre, at Boston Theater Marathon XII, with Jeney Richards and Dan Krstyen.
Click here to read Clouds Made of Bones by William Orem.
William Orem's first collection of stories, Zombi, You My Love, won the GLCA New Writers Award, formerly given to Louise Erdrich, Sherman Alexie, Richard Ford and Alice Munro. His second collection, Across the River, won the Texas Review Novella Prize. His first novel, Killer of Crying Deer, won the Eric Hoffer Award. Poems and short stories of his have appeared in over 100 literary journals, and he has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in both genres. His short plays have been performed around the country.
Currently he is a Senior Writer-in-Residence at Emerson College. Details at williamorem.com.