Still Life

by John Loeffler 

Cynthia woke up. A long shaft of sunlight cut through the closed-curtain, mid-afternoon dark of her bedroom. It took her a moment, lying in repose, to notice the anomaly.

It was silent. She lived on Myrtle Avenue, which was never silent, which was why she lived there. Growing up in Bergen County, New Jersey, she believed that you haven’t made it if it’s quiet where you live.

The door was open and down the hall she could see the door to Maggie’s room, also open. It took several moments to see what was reflected in the vanity mirror in Maggie’s room and several more to see what was wrong.

Later, she cried, curled up on a bus stop bench surrounded by people who had stopped moving. It was the same everywhere. Dogs, pigeons, machines; even the leaves ceased falling midair.

She was horrified for her frozen friends and the family she feared had stopped moving too, though she had no real way of knowing. They had all spread out to the west over the years.

She walked up and down every street, looking up at windows with hired maids palming the glass with paper towel. Passing the park and seeing the poses of the runners, nannies pushing strollers, young professionals drinking coffee, or random playing children caught in mid-air, Cynthia wondered if she wasn’t walking through some Greek sculpture garden instead of Fort Greene.

She looked for things to notice her but nothing did. She asked people relevant questions. When she didn’t get an answer, she screamed at them. Her mouth spittled the beard of a hipster, the spray of a grocer’s hose as it washed his best show-lettuce.

Time passed and she started making up stories for her people. She soon discovered that she couldn’t really push them over, but she could pick them up easily. They weighed nothing. She put on plays.

She laughed when she found a nose picker.

Kissing people looked ridiculous.

She must have looked like that with OKCupid guy, the one she just broke up with.

Turns out, she didn’t need OKCupid guy.

She ran naked down Washington Avenue, her body hair growing and no longer sculpted. She cried out all her sins to the sky but she did not repent.

She crested the hill after a long walk up Flatbush. She wore a West Indian Headdress she found on Eastern Parkway, the ceremonial fur of a Viking on loan to the Brooklyn Museum that she had cut to her shape, and clunky orthopedic shoes that didn’t hurt her feet. She wielded a metal trashcan lid for a shield and a large decorative wooden fork, seizing the throne of old and forgotten Poseidon.

She ran and mounted a green Boro cab beneath the arch in Grand Army Plaza and let out her warcry, banging her fork against her shield, and challenged the still and unconquerable Sun.

John is a writer of speculative fiction and poetry and resides in Brooklyn, NY. He is finally finishing up an English Degree which he knows will immediately make him a famous author who makes lots of money, but you can still help him out by visiting his website at or you can find him on twitter @DreadWriterJohn

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