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On the night of your funeral, I stand in front of a raging bonfire licking its way up to the blacked-out stars hidden in the sky above & let the snowstorm the radio says is on its way whip oily lashes of my hair across my cheeks. Drag them like a dirty razor kisses the skin to let something bleed out-you know all about the bleeding. How quietly it leaches into pine straw. How pine straw crackles when you throw it into a bonfire burning in rusted-out washing machine drum in the backwoods of Alachua county. …


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You are slicing bell peppers into ribbons when your man tells you that moving in together was a mistake. Next to the cutting board, you’ve measured out a thimble of hot pepper flakes, and the shrimp are shelled and deveined, cooling in the fridge until you’ve finished the rest of the prep. He asks if you heard what he just said. You keep slicing the pepper meticulously; you are proud of this one dish — shrimp fra diavolo — that you make well.

Before you left your job on the coast behind to move further inland with him, the chef at the restaurant had taught you the secret of making the dish really, really well — it wasn’t just the heat of the pepper flakes and the sweetness of the shrimp that gave his version of the dish its reputation as the best one around. It was the bell peppers, cut into matchsticks and added to the pan with the shrimp. …


By Allie Marini

In the cool shade of the mud pit at Gator Joe’s Intercession Junction, two juvenile bull gators named George & Gracie (though both were male) lazed in the shadow of the sun, watching-always watching-the handlers getting ready for showtime. The Gator Joe Revells had been in central Florida since the 1890s, when Gator Joe’s great-great-great-great-grandfather, Joseph, first came to learn the gator-wrestling trade from the Seminole & Miccosukee natives. Where the Revells had been before then is anyone’s guess. The 2 ndin the Revell line of Gator Joes moved the family away from Orlando not long after the famous mouse had taken up residence there. Intercession was far enough from Orlando- The City, they called it, spitting out the words like a cheekful of Skoal-to be away from the constant influx of tourism, but still close enough to collect the overflow of vacationers & their money. Joeley Revell, a fifth-generation Florida native, approached the pit in a pair of boots freckled with mud & gator shit. Her hair was scraped back from her forehead & knotted back tight in a green bandana. …


I endured it. It was fine

much the way it was fine when later that same year, working as a waitress, I pushed my towel-wrapped hand further than I should have into the mouth of a piece of glassware. The owners were particular about the optics of water marks dotting the glassware, what customers might think. The highball shattered without much warning, only a meek pop! as I pushed into it rough, mopping up all the evidence of the dirty work being done in the back of the house, cleaning up after hours. Even wrapped in a protective layer of thin, nubby terrycloth my hands got covered in broken glass: splinters of it, glass dust, big chunks of the heat-tempered glass of the base tinkling to the floor — breaking loud & angry, telling the whole restaurant my misdeeds. …


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Summer of the Cicada

Allie Marini

It is just past sunset when we breach, Husband and I. But breaching only delivers us from the dirt; it takes more light than the yellowed haze of dusk to pull ourselves fully free. It takes wide swaths of bark and the slowdive of leaves to become unbound from our larval skin, more sturdy than the frail pink skin of ourself from the time before. It doesn’t slough off the way we thought it would; we weren’t sure what to expect. Time means less to us now than it did when hours were still the measure that ruled us. Husband doesn’t understand hours. It seems less important to reach backwards to explain hours than it does to just move forward together without them, so we focus our effort on breaking away from our shell, instead of the human measure of time it takes. Because we are something separate now. Separate of human, separate of hours. Separate of skin. …


How to Make a Dogpatch Cake

or, Baking Something Out of Nothing

By Allie Marini

Before anything else, you will need to search the cupboards. If need be, knock on Gretchen Revell’s screen door. She always has at least 1 can of cherry pie filling socked away somewhere-God knows why-the woman don’t even bake. Who knows, maybe she buys it just because you come knocking so often & always bring her back a big scoop in a washed-out olio tub. If the cabinet doesn’t turn out anything worth having, then turn up all the cushions on the couch & collect every coin secreted in the cracks. Check the bottom of the La-Z-Boy where the cat hides. Sometimes quarters fall out of pockets. Check the console in the car till you rustle up enough to head down to the Dollar Store & buy 1 box of yellow cake mix. …


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I am four when my sister is born in Greenville, South Carolina. My parents are educated, but we struggle economically. I am easing you into this story-that in itself is a luxury. We move to Memphis, Tennessee that same year. There are no guns in our home, but I’m too young to know this, much less understand why. We live in a shitty duplex in Memphis. Our neighbors have guns and a pen of dogs in the backyard. They are sportsmen. Hunters. Good ol’ boys with rifles and a healthy love for the 2nd Amendment. They wear camo and set up targets in their backyard. My momma is nervous around them, but I’m too young to understand why. Let me say that again: At five years old, I am too young to understand why. I start kindergarten at Sheffield Elementary School. It is 1983. There are no active shooter drills. Let me repeat: At five years old, I am too young to understand. I am allowed the luxury of being five years old, and only five years old. The neighbors give us a puppy-Brittany Spaniel, a hunting breed. Candy is female, runt of the litter. In other words: worthless. As luck would have it, she’s the only one in the litter worth a damn as a pointer. The neighbors offer to buy her back. Though my family could use the money, my parents refuse. I am too young to understand why. …


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The air is green, like corroded copper, and smells of it too. I sit down at the kitchen table, after double checking to make sure I remembered to latch every window shut and draw the drapes together, double knotting the sash to keep them closed, and rattled every doorknob twice, to make sure the locks were secure. The distant growl of motorcycles circles closer, then pulls away, the madness of their shrieks like a sickness. There’s a hammering at the doorframe, the panicky sound of Sammy’s fists coming down-and I know it’s not really there; it’s just an echo in my skull that comes with the smoke and the engines. …

About

Allie Marini

Allie Marini is a cross-genre writer and tarot reader. Allie is a Florida expat who writes poetry, fiction, essays, and tarot dossiers. www.alliemarini.com

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