Categories
Flash Contest NonFiction

Kayleb Rae Candrilli

ATTEMPTING TO TEACH IN A DESERT

The blonde boy in my composition class is a snarky one. He, unlike the others, understands the semi colon and the tonal aside. I am attracted to him for this. He condemns the prison industrial complex, the decline of credible news resources, and writes satirical analyses of country songs. I feel under qualified to teach him.

His mother went missing four months ago. Went to a 24-hour Wal-Mart and never came back. I think about this when the sun goes down and I’m still too many blocks from home, how gravel under my feet feels like the scuffle she might have had.

When I get coffee with the blond boy, before I leave to teach at another university, I ask him how he is doing. He knows what I am really wondering and shrugs it away. I tell him, “Write about it” and feel overbearing; I am not his teacher anymore. I tell him to “keep in touch.” We will not.

The night before I move to the deep south, I buy two packs of L&M Reds and while leaving the gas station, I check my height on the measuring tape that lines the exit—still 5’4. There are two fliers on the door: a Methodist Church advertising summer art classes, and a missing persons. “Have you seen this woman?” No. My stomach turns for my blonde student, who is no longer my student, the one that won’t keep in touch.

Months later, I dream that my new porch has been white washed, all that’s left: two rocking chairs. I sit like I do most mornings, light my cigarette with a white lighter. Everything is colorless in this dream. When I exhale my drag, I rock backward. The porch’s railing has disappeared and my front yard is a sand dune, a dune that leads to another and another, forever—a bright desert. I take my few stairs down to the sand and it burns my feet; the heat wakes me, and my sheets roll like dunes. Still groggy, I think to something my blonde boy said over coffee: “There’s really nothing. So many things could have happened, that nothing happened. She’s just gone. Poof.”

I imagine his mother out in a desert; I want to fall back to sleep; I want to bring her water; I want to pitch an umbrella; I want her quenched and shaded when I ask her how she could leave her son.

__________________________________

Kayleb Rae Candrilli received a Bachelors and Masters in Creative Writing from Penn State University and is a current MFA candidate at the University of Alabama. Candrilli was awarded first place in Vela Magazine’s non-fiction contest for women, and is published or forthcoming in the Chattahoochee Review, Gravel, Wilde Magazine, and Driftwood Press. Find more of their work here

One reply on “Kayleb Rae Candrilli”