Treehouse

online magazine for short, good writing

Category: Genres

Brief Encounter: Keeping Mum

by Treehouse Editors

Karan Parrack

The summer my husband and I moved to the Texas Hill Country and bought
a house on two sloping, rocky acres west of Austin, we had just added to our
family an astonishingly large yellow lab puppy named Mason. Unfortunately, the acreage was not fenced. While Mason bounded and romped across the spacious land, chasing but never quite catching the rabbits and deer that roamed freely, we had to tether him to a stake in the side yard whenever we left the house. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but it worked for the time.

By mid-October, the weather turned to more fall-like temperatures and the Hill Country became absolutely gorgeous. Our house had a fantastic wooden front porch with five steps leading up to it. I pictured how beautiful my country home would look with colorful pots of mums arranged artfully on the steps, much like some picture out of Southern Living. I bought multiple pots and placed them along the front steps. However, the neighbors had warned me about the futility of planting any flowers due to the large deer population. They ate almost anything that bloomed, that year in particular due to a severe drought. It dawned on me that I could use Mason, by now a strapping, lanky ten-month old, to scare away any deer that dared to approach the flowers. I planned to move his tether to the shady area at the base of the porch, and if any deer came near, Mason’s exuberant barking and jumping would scare them away. The next morning, with total confidence, I left Mason by the porch while I went to work.

Late in the afternoon I arrived back home. As I drove up the winding driveway, I peered past the trees to enjoy the beauty of fall flowers lining my front steps. To my dismay, I couldn’t make out any spots of color. Running to the front porch, I discovered that Mason, the guard dog, had proceeded to eat and destroy the flowers himself! Slobbery pots indented with teeth marks lay fallen in the dirt, and the flowers themselves had been shaken and shredded. A few limp bits of greenery remained littered around the steps, and as for Mason, his nose was crusted with dirt. I sank down on a step and shared a good laugh with Mason, clueless and contented, over how my plan had backfired.


Karan Parrack is a native Texan who has taught high school English and English as a Second Language for more than 30 years.

The Way of Neighbors

by Treehouse Editors

Linda Conroy

With rain from empty sky, fall came fast, unexpected, even after all this time. Strange to be dark again at seven, then at six, time to tuck in, close the curtains, cushion coming doubt. Harsh division day from night, in from out, splits liveliness from sleep, unless, as is the threat, the good game changer, snow. It will be a brighter place here then, pulling us outside with shovels, brooms and salt, bringing neighbors, dogs and children out, and Mary next door with her red coat says, wait, after we have dug and swept, I have some apple cider, let’s make punch. Macs and boots stack in her hall. The kitchen fills and long-told stories creep from dusty shelves. Remember when Clement broke his leg the day the barn came down, and Silas married Sarah in three feet of snow. The minister was booked, so Silas said we had to go ahead and others stamped their feet and dug a path. Good thing we only had to come from here, someone said.


Linda Conroy is a retired social worker who likes to observe the simplicity and complexity of the human connections which inform and foreshadow the art of writing poetry. Her poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Third Wednesday, Shot Glass, The Penwood Review, Washington 129, The Poeming Pigeon, Clover – A Literary Rag, and Raven Chronicles.

Denial

by Treehouse Editors

Finola McDonald

the last time
I went into town
there were bodies in the convenience store

strangled with garlands
of their own
misfortune.

I knelt beside them,
thanked them as I plucked
rubies
from their eye sockets

           and continued on
to the milk aisle.


Finola McDonald is a Bronx native and coffee enthusiast with a thing for writing. She is currently completing her undergraduate studies at SUNY Purchase in Westchester, NY.

KIT

by Treehouse Editors

D. Marquel

              She always did
              like
              seeing him
hang

on

her

ellipses –

              on a leash
long enough
to leave
              the illusion of freedom.

              When he whistled
her way,
              she faded away,
melting,

and
bleeding
              indiscernibly
              into color.

              She had an appetite,
              apparently,
              for the semi-sweet,
              and after all,

              grains of salt
              and sugar ​do
              feel the same
at 3 am.

              Word is,
              she still gets a rush
              at imaginary glances –

              at the chance to drag him
              all the way to the edge,
expectant,
unsheathed
              stalactites
              salivating,
smeared
              in burnt cork,

              and would,
              too,
              if not for the tugging
              at her own choke chain
              designed to keep her
in tow.


D. Marquel was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. His work has been featured in Chaleur Magazine (July 2018), San Diego Writers, Ink: A Year in Ink Anthology (Vol. 11), City Works Journal (Vols. 23 and 25), and by So Say We All’s VAMP reading series. You can find his work-in-progress at www.instagram.com/d.marquel. He currently resides in San Diego, CA.

 

The Congregation

by Treehouse Editors

Bailey Bridgewater

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Bailey Bridgewater’s work has appeared in Crack the Spine, The Molotov Cocktail, The Eunoia Review, Nanoism, SubTerranean, As You Were, and Fiction on the Web.

Wapiti

by Treehouse Editors

Darren Higgins

She wore her antlers to bed
and raked them against the headboard.

Bloody strips of velvet
coiled on the pillows and sheets.

What did I know of her hunger
to change, or mine? So much is better

left to the dark. The sounds she made.
The things she did.


Darren Higgins is a writer, editor, and artist living in Waterbury Center, Vermont. A graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, Darren has contributed essays, interviews, and commentaries to Numero Cinq, Jacket2, and Vermont Public Radio. His poems and stories have appeared in The Iowa Review, La Fovea, Quick Fiction, RAZED, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere.

New Brief Encounters Prompt: When Life Gives You Lemons…

by Treehouse Editors

We’re excited to announce that Brief Encounters submissions are back open, and our newest prompt is: When Life Gives You Lemons…

Do you make lemonade, or lemon dill potatoes? Do you light the lemons on fire and hurl them through life’s windows to let it know that you’re not to be screwed with? Can you make lemonade without sugar and water? Send us your most creative and unexpected stories of making the best of a bad situation, whether they be poetry or prose (as long as they’re 400 words or fewer, of course).

We can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!