Two stories by Alan Michael Parker
The Price of Eggs
When the price of eggs went up and up, and then there were no more eggs, that was it. He made a raft from various pillows and a laundry basket, stuck a broom for a mast, enough of a flag. All just in case.
He held out his hand and she climbed aboard.
Where are we going?
I don’t know. Trust me.
It was like a song they used to know, being on a raft.
Outside, the weather did its weathering.
They floated past the rest of the furniture, the outlines of their memories.
An egg is a perfect being, so curved all around. It’s like an emotion.
I think so. Yes.
They sailed around the living room. Around the moon and earth of their togetherness.
This isn’t so bad.
The lights were a small comfort, but who knew for how long.
What will happen next?
That’s the thing. That’s why we need to stay together. It’s the future.
The Price of Gas
When the price of gas went up, the announcement came: all houses would be torn down, everyone would move into their cars, to focus our lives upon what we love—our cars. To optimize. For togetherness. With eyelet curtains for decorum, and back seats for changing babies and other privacies. Radios sputtered on in the darkness: hockey from the north, the search for a little dog lost, politics, hopes. By fiat, everyone slept where they parked, bedtime at 9:30, but really, 10.
The corn grew. There was more corn, and of course, the cows. The cows like herds of weather.
Cars filled, and not just with teenagers. There were older teenagers, too, who offered adults the last piece of pie, and only hit each other, claiming the right to procreate.
Occasionally, someone escaped to live in a cave in the cliffs, but those caves weren’t clean.
Where there had been houses, dirt and grass rectangles burnished our seasonal memories.
At last a family of five climbed atop the roof of their SUV. They liked the view. They could see the trucks of the town trucking department, the ocean of moon-eyed lovers at the Drive-In (guns, a comedy), more cows on the horizon, menacing. A twister drilled the houses of all the other towns. The youngest had a sucker.
Would we all live on the roofs of our SUVs? There was thinking. We self-selected into Ups and Downs and Others and More Others. What would evolution say? Secrets are so passé.
I stayed below. You stayed inside. The rest are over there. But maybe someone’s reading this.
Alan Michael Parker has written four novels, including The Committee on Town Happiness, a novel in flash fictions. He is also the author of nine collections of poems, coeditor of The Manifesto Project, Editor of The Imaginary Poets, and coeditor of three other volumes. Parker has received numerous awards for his writing, including the North Carolina Book Award, three Pushcart Prizes, the Fineline Prize, the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the Randall Jarrell Poetry Prize in 2013, 2014, and 2019. He holds the Houchens Chair in English at Davidson College, where he has taught since 1998. He can be found at www.alanmichaelparker.com.