I’ve sold my story Between Dry Ribs to The Dark magazine for their February 2016 issue. The story travels from St. Martin to Finland, in search of the healthy benefits of a good sauna. Here’s a taste:
In the mirror, the parents are studying the menu in a sort of baffled dread. ‘What are we doing here,’ those looks said, so far from the pastel-painted markets by the cruise ship landing, manned by Dutch students on their year-off adventure, alway within safe range of a McDonalds or PizzaHut or Starbucks. Their confusion, the way their eyes twitch as the bartender hacks at the ice with a pick, the way their sweat-slick shoulders hunch forward. All that, too, is reassurance.
The boy has twisted in his chair, has pinned a gecko’s tail to the wall with one finger; as I watch in the mirror the tail pulls free and the gecko drops to safety. The girl has set her phone down. Her reflection gives me a look too dry and flat, and a fresh layer of sweat breaks out across my scalp, under my bra. I smell my own fear. The girl is rolling her can of Coke across her forehead, and her reflection is too distorted, the mirror too dank and corroded for me to tell if the glints are sweat or just the can’s condensation.
The humidity, which finds everything, can make my lighter unreliable. I fight the urge to try it, imagine the lure of the flame. Instead I pull out my little pocketknife, open it so the blade faces upward, rest the last joint of my forefinger upon it.