Pure, white snow crunched under his foot as Ilyasha stepped out of his wooden house on the edge of the village. His breath cascaded out of his mouth as his eyes adjusted to the sun’s last rays on the edge of the woods bordering his home. He had risen too late to do anything of value—the previous night of drinking in the center of the village with the rest of his friends from the Black Hundreds had seen to that. He was up now because his wife kicked him awake with a curse and told him that if he didn’t leave the house to gather firewood, she would rip out his liver before they froze to death. The threat was enough (barely, the cold really was unbearable this time of year) to make Ilyasha Dubrovin stagger to his feet, put on his black-dyed wool coat and cap and walked through the front door.
He made a semi-circle in the snow with his foot and stamped on the ground a few times. The cold, relentless, came at him in a gust. Ilyasha rubbed his hands togehter. Maybe if he went back in and said he couldn’t find an axe, Anna would forgive him and the two could relive their earlier married days. But no, drinking last night left his chances of that happening slim to none. Anna had become religious and, since talking to the old, waxy-skinned, soft-voiced priest recently arrived from St. Petersburg, had looked down on Ilyasha’s companions. Whenever he returned from associating with anyone from the organization, in any context, he slept on the floor.
Ilyasha coughed and decided that it would be better if he got the job done fast. They only needed a little wood for the fire, just enough to keep it going for a few hours. He walked further out to the chopping stump and pulled out the axe. He rested it on his shoulder and trudged through the snow to the woods, squinting his eyes against the wind and flakes falling from the sky.
It just occurred to me that I haven’t put up a link to a story that I actually had published last year. (That’s right kids, if Aaron can do it, so can you!)
“Rocks and Hot Dogs” was a story workshopped in one of my Writing Fiction classes that, a couple of edits later, I blindly submitted to a magazine called Danse Macabre. About a week or so later, I got an e-mail in my inbox that told me that they would publish my story. You can find it here. Hopefully I’ll be able to have more posts with this header in the near future, but, well, that’s up to the editors of websites, isn’t it?
Anyway, here’s the first paragraph to whet your appetite:
Douglas Roth hadn’t written a decent word in over three months. Pages and pages of overly dramatic narration, self-serious commentaries on the human condition, concerned paragraphs dealing with failed relationships and various types of cancer were easy: Everyone on the planet Earth at one point or another suffers from an existential funk or has the extreme misfortune to experience or know someone who is diagnosed with a terrible disease—that’s why his four stories from the past three months had been snatched up almost immediately after he put them in their envelopes. Douglas, though, had always strived to write about something Rare. These Rare things came in a flash of inspiration, usually in disjointed phrases that made no sense and took either a tremendous amount of coffee, tremendous lack of sleep, or tremendous amount of booze to make sense of. Generally, these Rare things were nonsense or had no relevance to anything going on in the modern world and were thus called trite or nonsensical by literatis, but Douglas loved each of them like children and was continuously surprised when someone came up to him in a bar expounding a theory about one of his stories. It seemed that his readers were much, much more intelligent than he was.