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"SISTER AGE" by Cheryl Snell

Better twenty in the seventies than seventy in the twenties

He did her a favor, donating her fake-fur tiger-striped mini-dress to Goodwill. She tended to hang onto things like that, the scent of her memories still clinging to the fabric. The markings on the dress had faded, and the whole thing seemed to have withered in the back of the dark closet. Her husband pointed out, “You wore that dress fifty years ago─ you’ll never get into it now.” He was blunt that way, and she depended on him for objective truth, no matter how much it hurt. When a barista sashayed into Starbucks one day, wrapped in the tiger dress, he whistled at her. He was right again─ the dress was fierce as ever under the harsh light.

Umwelt of a Fountain Pen

It always crawled into his hand at the wrong time. He’d wrap his fist around it as if he was the only one enslaved. When the pen scratched the paper, it made a sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, a violin bow across cat-gut strings. A tickle, a twitch, a hiccup, an itch.

To push the ravaging nib along the page stained everything─ fingers and thumb, paper, the grain of the desk─ with a fierce blue cruelty. When his work was finished, one of his muses said it was a revelation─ but of what she couldn’t say.

The breath reconsiders death

as it tumbles through these structures, past the lung-pinks and blood-reds, the vein-blues, bile-greens, and bone-beiges, knowing it may not make it; might not outrun the body’s disease. If it could speed up fast enough so time bends backward, the woman in the next bed would applaud and cheer. She’s always calling for her parents, as if they are not still dead, saying she wants her ticket home, too. Comfort comes from the idea we are skeletons made of stars, she whispers. When breath bursts from her mouth, it pops like champagne bubbles. We must always celebrate something, I tell her.

Cheryl Snell is a poet, a fictionista, an aficionado of old music and new art, She is fluent in subtext, and is the author of several books, including the novels of her Bombay Trilogy. She has been published in five hundred literary journals and anthologies, including a Best of the Net. Look her up on Facebook. She'll keep a light on


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