Alexx Mattox is an MFA student at San Diego State University. Some of her short fiction can be found in The Pacific Review and Pressed Publication.
On most days, my name sounds strange and uncomfortable to me. Like it belongs to the rotting plants hanging from ceilings or the wine glasses in the dirty dishes. I find it in the curve of the distant mountains or in a glass of wine before noon.
I’m sure my mother named me with stale coffee on her breath and my father replied yes with a glass of whiskey in his hands.
Some mornings, I feel like a stranger in my own bed. Like I’ve been tossed around between a sleepless night and a distant memory. As I learn to navigate my way through life, I find myself spending time looking for ways to recognize the only sound that’s ever been mine.
I pace around my apartment, clean the dishes, have two cups of coffee, and learn to love whiskey without committing to accepting the taste.
My desk drawer is filled with trinkets and crumpled up letters that I’ve written but decided to never send. Most of them are just desperate pleas. They ask strangers if their hearts jump at the sound of my name. If its meaning is wrapped in their bed sheets of their bed or living under a pile of magazines. I wonder if it tastes better rolling off tongues if it’s dipped in honey or if It gets stuck between the teeth of men I’ve never met.
Everything is a mess and it makes my heart hurt. I cut red wine stains out of my carpet and look for ways to hide the same stains left on my soul. I often find myself laughing at the dead birds that are scattered in my front yard. With shaky hands, I hold their deflated bodies, black feathers wrap around fragile bones. One by one I pick them up and throw them into the sky, hoping the air will decide to fill their tiny bodies and make them plump again. I exhale stale smoke, my belly full of coffee. I pace through the present as I leave footsteps on my past. One by one, the birds remind me of who I’ve become. They scream at me without using words longing for my letters to be taped to the ends of their bony legs.
They only knew how to fly off in a cool breeze in the summer or when sunsets look like opals.
When I finally make my way back to the kitchen, the dishes are dirty and swallowed in the mess I’ve made. I submerge my arms elbow deep into the murky water in search of a wine glass. I scrub red strains off the glass just to watch them reappear later.
I take a seat at my desk and find comfort in flattening out the crumpled letters one-by- one. I’ve accepted that I’ll never ask these strangers any questions, just like I’ll refuse to ask the birds to fly for my enjoyment with broken wings.
From the Editor:
We hope that readers receive In Parentheses as a medium through which the evolution of human thought can be appreciated, nurtured and precipitated. It will present a dynamo of artistic expression, journalism, informal analysis of our daily world, entertainment of ideas considered lofty and criticism of today’s popular culture. The featured content does not follow any specific ideology except for that of intellectual expansion of the masses.
Founded in late 2011, In Parentheses prides itself upon analysis of the current condition of intelligence in the minds of these young people, and building a hypothesis for one looming question: what comes after Post-Modernism?
The idea for this magazine stems from a simple conversation regarding the aforementioned question, which drew out the need to identify our generation’s place in literary history.
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