Wet pavement smells surprisingly earthy like cigarettes soaked through with rainwater, once dried. Hard to remember stone can mark presence on nostrils when it’s cold, scent leeched even out of laundry an trash. Cold, but hardly snowing. No treads crunch on ice to give me away. If sky reflects asphalt & they appear to meet at horizon, like, it’s often described, sky & sea, then the little matchbox Mandy I’m headin towards is the only object in this particular box of a page.

You had her windows rolled all the way down, but the only smoke coming out your lungs was air. I suppressed a shudder on your behalf, chill involuntary, twitching somehow, not. You stared down horizon seam, like a sharpened icicle glint in eyes was enough to get us out of it. Though, you wouldn’t’ve thought us, not knowing how close I was. Or you would’ve, because somehow from the first moment our gaze really locked, we’ve been inside endless openings. It is up to us to read them as traps or as gift jars specified in wills. Every latched door opens to another door same as every parking lot attaches to asphalt veins & pools into another parking lot, same as beaver dams grow ponds on meandering streams.

Mineral glints sparkle on the ground, cold as the stars, from here at least. Never gettin closer, after all. I slowly unlatch door to cab, wonder if audibility can be imagined. I’m next to you now, atop ill-fitting seat covers, your hands in your lap, keys on floor, driving must not be on your mind, must not seem possible. But looking over must be, you must sense a presence, even if you don’t recognize it’s me. I reach for your arm, you aren’t even wearing a shield. My print is left when I draw my hand away, you haven’t flinched, haven’t moved, haven’t noticed what one or both of us conjured. You are frozen.

I close your eyes.

But that isn’t where it stops, no, not yet. I rolled up the windows, sealing us again inside glass. If there is an audience it is the lurking sort, who make their not-lives under rocks & whisper that the stars are cold, but using not those words, since rocks aren’t sky & lurking creatures long ago bludgeoned hope & ideas of stars out of their weighted scales. We’d ignore them anyway. Least you would. Seems you were ignoring a lot, going an gettin yerself frozen. I was Medusa only for Halloween. Mirrors are cold as gazes hidden behind smoked lenses. I had a task. Someone had to remind you of what you made, least narratively, true.

So I started:

tugging your stiff form out from

behind the steering wheel. I straddled your jeans, mine growing damp from melting frost, feather-fur soft. I placed hands against your throat. Left them there until my marks showed. Laid, carefully, kisses on each eyelid, each earlobe, your thin lips twisted, what is normally a smirk is right now a grimace. Handprints left like book marks on every page, wrapped round each an every limb, cold water runoff pooling & refreezing at the bottom of our box. I hadta climb off ya ta pull yer feet out the way, crumpled into box bench passenger seat.

Keys, I haven’t lost yet,

caught by trailing laces before ice could seize it, or pedals for ignition possibility. Whatever worn board casing horizon an sky have got us in, outside of all this mess an your grayish pale skin, a bit too sodden, your breath clouds still like long drags, your meltin flesh salt-dirt damp thick in our box air.

I was tempted

to roll the window down.


Key, in, threshold moments so delicious

smokers savor em with their fav’rit tease taste.

Mandy shares life

Did you sea it?


exhaust emitted weatherin crackin paint a smidge

further showin through history of layers, glimmers


You opened your eyes just fore that an

You opened your eyes just for that an not any of the stripping you of frost I did meltin it away though some bits of flesh had been lost from movin myself way from the cold too fast, before you’d thawed enough. You spoke:

“So you’re gonna drive us out of this magician’s trick box?”

“What, you mean, off the shelf an over the cliff ?”

“What? I can’t’ve heard that right. My inner ear’s still frozen.”

“Course it is, I wasn’t gonna get my tongue frozen inside yer ear.”

Headshake, droplets flyin off

“Anyway. Sea where Mandy’s headlights are hittin that wall?” Denial.

“Well, that’s the wall you’re about to crash us into if you drive anywhere.”

I blinked into yer melted eyeballs, glassy icicle glare forgotten in midnight snack in the dark honey, exercise in front of the mirror tomorrow. Your shoes were soaked from passenger seat puddle.

“Open your door.”

The waterfall took way a few extra things, but nothing we were gonna be missing. Had to leave a few scraps, show where again it happened, no death on display, just like snuff films, it’s gotta be fake.

“Think we just left an ocean.”

“Be a glacier in no time, wear right through the bottom, leak out all over the others, be a whole new waterfall down to the bottom of the gallery case.”

“Right, so how were we getting the fuck out of here again?”

“What, you don’t like being art?” I mocked ya. It only worked cause you knew it an everyone else wondered if they should be sure. Probably shouldn’t, I never am. Except about this.

“You saw those stars o course?”

(Even if you missed the rest.

“But I was dead at the time.”

“Well I guess.” Looks like, his story checks out. “This pair’s innocent! Don’t ask me how, boss, gotta ask them.” They’ll tell you a story bout monsters.)


Cracks an knothole markers. Filament route.

Not too hard to tell the future when there’s only one way out an it’s been glitterin in the sky since you opened yer eyes.

Case: Display

Storm Ainsely

Storm Ainsely has lived in 9 of the United States and will tell you she's from fiction-land. Visible stars and trees are necessities in her life. One day, she hopes to have a mini-sustainable-house- on-wheels, so she can keep moving without having to pack. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sleet Magazine, Cardinal Sins, Wild Roof Journal, New Note Poetry, Oakwood, and Plumwood Mountain Journal.