Treehouse

online magazine for short, good writing

5 of My Favorite Emojis

by Treehouse Editors

from Darren Higgins, author of Wapiti

🍯

Nothing drips quite like honey, so slow and sweet. Nothing shines. Nothing stays. The stickiness comes as a surprise but then I like it. Does honey wrap around your tongue? It does. Around and around. It does. Honey is liquid time. Honey remembers us, that’s what we want to believe. Honey tastes like.

🐞

I once sat in an awful patch of grass, more dirt than grass, really; it was sharp and unevenly cut, at odds with itself, poking my palm. Then I felt a tickle at my fingers. A ladybug. I watched her climb my arm, then returned her to the grass many ladybug-miles from me. But she returned. She found me. She kept coming back. She preferred me to the grass.

🗝

I have never had a tattoo nor really even considered it, but if I do ever get a tattoo then let it be a fancy old key right there on the inside of my left wrist, near the delta of my veins, near the tendons that rise like cables when I make a fist, floating upon the twitch of my pulse. What is a key? What is it really? I think the key is desire.

🥝

No one suspects the kiwi. Who would? No one suspects that it is my favorite fruit, more favorite than even the strawberry (though I do like to bite strawberries, I won’t mislead you). The unassuming kiwi. What are you hiding? But I know! I already know.

🚂

The rhythm of the train is the rhythm of the masquerade. I am never myself on a train. I am a performer, to be seen, to be looked over. But that’s all right. You are never yourself either. You take me by the hand and push me into my seat. You smile. I turn my eyes toward the window, watching the golden fields pass slow and sweet as honey.

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!

The Gift

by Treehouse Editors

Karen Collier

I sit at the kitchen table with my mother, stepfather, and one of my new classmates, Kim, a girl with long black hair, eyes the color of a glacier, and skin so translucent I can see the veins meandering across her temples. They finish the last refrain of “Happy Birthday,” although Kim is singing the version about a monkey in a zoo.

“Make a wish!” My mother shoves a lop-sided chocolate cake with twelve candles in my direction.

I blow out the candles in one breath.

“Here!” Kim hands me a wrapped box as my mother begins to cut the cake.

I rip off the paper and open the box to find another smaller wrapped box.

“Fooled you.” Kim giggles, and I join her.

Our laughter grows as I open each box, only to find increasingly smaller wrapped boxes.

When I reach the smallest box, I think it is the perfect size for a pair of earrings or a friendship bracelet, but as I peel off the paper, I notice that Kim’s laugh has become maniacal and my mother looks worried.

I open the final box and see a sheet of fluffy cotton. I lift the cotton to find the bottom of an empty box.

“There’s nothing in it.” Kim doubles over laughing. “That’s why it’s such a good joke.”

We eat our cake in silence. I fight back tears. When we’re finished, Jerry offers to drive Kim home.

“See you tomorrow.” Kim waves as she bounces out the door.

My mother covers the leftover cake with tin foil and wets a washcloth. As she wipes cake crumbs from the table, she asks, “Is Kim the only friend you’ve made at your new school?”

“Yes,” I say, and I pick up a piece of torn wrapping paper from the floor.


Karen Collier is a native Texan. She spent twenty long years in high tech before becoming a high school English teacher and discovering how the other half lives: in poverty. She left teaching after five years to pursue life as a creative writer. Her work has been published in Full Grown People, The Austin-American Statesman, The First Line, and The Ocotillo Review.

5 Steps for Lighting a Match (after Julio Cortázar)

by Treehouse Editors

from Mary Haidri, author of Celestial Divorce and The Cactus Moment

1. Unbraid your mother’s hair. Brush it carefully. Among all the grey and silver, watch for small sparks igniting between the teeth of the comb. Catch these in your palm and put them into a mason jar. Do not punch holes in the lid.

2. When you have caught twenty sparks in the jar, walk out into the night. Let the jar light your path. Find a rose bush and break off the largest thorn.

3. Walk until you reach an empty field. Find a stick. Draw a line in the grass, nine feet long and three feet wide. Shape it like your mother’s body.

4. Take your jar of sparks and the thorn and sit in the middle of the outline shaped like your mother. Wait in the dark without moving. Wait until the first light rises in the east.

5. Hold up your jar and observe: the sparks have formed into a single flame. Open the lid. Fish for the flame with the rose thorn. It will wriggle and resist. Once hooked, pull the flame out of the jar. Offer it to the sun.

 

How to Grieve

by Treehouse Editors

Deanne Gertner

Start with a quail’s egg, cream
colored, brown speckled, chilled
from the icebox. Cradle it in the dip
of your clavicle until its temperature
matches yours. With your index
finger and thumb, crush the shell.
Slick the yoke over your nail
and let it dry in the cold, winter
sun. Let the rough tongue of a cat
lick your hand bone-clean.

List the things you took
for granted in disappearing
ink on your bedsheets
in the middle of a late-spring
storm at 3 a.m., your belly
warmed by an eighth
of whiskey, the suicide
music doing its best
to blare from the puny
speakers of your phone.

At the end of your grief
pretend the words caterwauling
inside your head are red
and green macaws sojourning
for a week or four or seventeen.
Study not their flight, for-life
mating habits nor yellow eyes.
Wait instead for circadian
rhythms to realign. Pray
for molted feathers to re-plume.


A Colorado native, Deanne Gertner holds an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and a BA from Regis University. Her fiction has appeared in Quaint Magazine and Scintilla while her art criticism has appeared in Daily Serving and Presenting Denver. She serves on the board for Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop, the largest literary center in the Rocky Mountain region.