Pink Sky by Jon Ransom

There’s a street without a name on an estate without any lights where, in a house without any rules, God talks to me. He says, Robbie, why you thinking about Paul, and not the football?

But I don’t want to hear it, so I grab my coat from the banister at the bottom of the stairs and go out. A piece of fiber-board is nailed to the bottom half of the door, where some git kicked it in. I take out my cigarettes. Blue smoke billows from my mouth, making me look hard. I use my thumb and first finger to hold the cigarette butt, because that’s how proper lads are meant to do it.

Because I’ve no money in my pocket, me and Paul are pissing about on the riverbank. Paul has my rolled-up coat under his head. He’s wearing a yellow t-shirt that makes his skin look nice. We’re watching the lines aeroplanes draw across the pink sky, guessing where they’re going. “Spain?” he says.

“Wrong way,” I say.

“How d’you know, mate?”

“Just do.”

Every now and again his arm pushes up against mine. I like it so much it hurts. Feels like if I stay right by his side I’ll throw-up. That’s when I roll away and say, “We should go to Spain.”

Paul hops up off the grass. “You wanna go swimming?” He hustles to the water’s edge.

“Nah,” I say, watching him strip off. His arse is moon white. I close my eyes when he turns around. The colours on my eyelids change from red to blue and back again. When I open my eyes, he’s gone.

“Stop messing about.” I light another cigarette. “Paul—”

There’s a ripple in the muddy black water where he was a few seconds ago. I’m waiting, begging for him to come back up. But it’s useless. God hates me.

 


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Jon Ransom is a queer writer living in Cambridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Timing by Katie Quinnelly

Holding both of my hands in his, I could feel my calluses against the ones in Justin’s palms, the ones that protect him from kitty-litter granite, the ones that keep his bones from being bothered by the cold. He looked me in my face and said “The timing is just bad, that’s all.”

He talks with his hands cupped, his fingers never separating, in a way that looks like paws. He uses them to flip pancakes. He doesn’t need a spatula. When he wakes up early, before his voice is working, he grunts like a pup in my hair.

At work, a Veteran brought in his grandson and told me about his time in Vietnam. He runs 11 miles a day, but still, last month he had a heart attack. Behind him, his grandson was having a nerf gun war with another customer’s kid. “I pulled out my wallet. That’s the last thing I remember before I dropped,” said the Veteran. As he talked, his grandson took a foam dart to the gut, and crumpled.

Justin told me his life has amounted to many things, but a recurring theme is convincing women not to commit suicide; his mother the first in the series. Later, it was a girlfriend. That was the first time I saw him cry: his head on my shoulder late one night, downtown, beside my car. He picked his head up, and pulled his collar up around his muzzle.

“Bad timing,” he said, and he shook his head. In the distance, the sound of a dog chain.


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Katie Quinnelly is a climbing instructor in West Virginia. Her work has appeared in Occulum, Moonchild Magazine, The Ginger Collect, and b(OINK), among others.