The House Once there was a house. Once there was a choice. The house was made of inside, while the choice lived outside. Before that, there were many other choices, all outside, too, but that could be gotten to because the house had a door that opened, allowing a going out and a coming in, and had, and did. But then came this choice, of surprise and delight and innocence, more than any other. A choice made wholly of outside, it could not come in, but rather must be gone to and embraced. Surprise. Delight. Innocence. Yet a choice to which the responsible door should not open. The house suddenly so bounded, so permanent, so… shut. The windows, with their crosshatched bars, gazed out at the choice, though really, a choice no more, but instead a reverie, forever out there. ** Vulnerability It’s not natural to bare your breast, to, with unarmed fingertips, pull away the scant material barricading the pump that is your life. To make a close-range target for someone to shoot at to laugh at to do nothing about in the off chance the person— the people the world —will empathize and pity you like you a little love you. Try unclothing yourself even once and eyes roll, your death predicted, when the opposite is true. Look at me. I mean really. Look this way, at me. . Watch as I lift my nude fingers, hot with touch. Study how they curve and hook to the edge of my cheap cotton tank top, pulling the fabric away for you to see the freckle on my left breast the white of my skin, and beneath, the faint blue threads, like gun smoke drifting upward. I appear weak undignified not dangerous. But I am, to you who stands close who is unsuspecting who does not realize nakedness means there’s nothing else to offer, to lose. I can, if I want, strangle with my truth either killing or birthing us both.
A journalist by profession, Martha Engber ’s next novel, Winter Light, is available for preorder (due out Oct. 6, 2020, Vine Leaves Press, Melbourne, Australia). She’s also the author of The Wind Thief, a novel, and Growing Great Characters From the Ground Up. She’s had a full-length play produced in Hollywood and over a dozen short stories, essays and poems published in anthologies and literary magazines such as the Aurorean, Watchword and the Berkeley Fiction Review. For more information, check out her website or connect with her via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook author page, LinkedIn, Amazon or GoodReads.