Before the Thaw
Tara Laskowski

THE SPRING air was still brutal at dawn, but the old man stepped out on the porch barefoot. From across the acres he could see the neighbor, whirling in random circles with the ride-on lawnmower, a giant red bow like the ones in car commercials during the holidays affixed to the front. He was performing for the figure on the porch, her skirt billowing through the wooden posts as she leaned against the railing, hands clasped.

The old man stepped down. The frosted dew crunched beneath his toes. He remembered when Mary had stood at the edge of their property line, scowling the way she did, stubborn, stupid really, yelling at those neighbors, drawing the lines that the neighbor now rode right up to, careful not to cross. And now all he wanted was to stand on that line and let those blades slice through skin, bone, muscle, knowing he wouldn't feel it he was so numb.


Tara Laskowski is the author of Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons, forthcoming from Matter Press in October 2012. She is from Pennsylvania and earned an MFA from George Mason University. She is the senior editor of SmokeLong Quarterly. Find out more at