Spot 039: Time Shifting


by Gita M. Smith

Cicada sleeps for seven years, a curled and brittle pupa in the soil.
He stirs and digs his way toward the light.
All those years, he thinks, for just one chance to fuck.
I hope she’s pretty.

He climbs a tree and lures a female with his song. Reeee-ee! Reee-ee!
Later, the two engage in pillow talk.
“Why can’t we be like crickets or mosquitoes? Why such a long gestation? It’s not efficient.”
They sit a while, clinging to bark or branch.
He rubs his legs against his abdomen, hoping for one more hump before his time is up.

She busies herself, laying her eggs in holes around the tree.
Poor kids, she thinks. Our kind are most unfortunate. We never get to meet our mom and dad. If only we could speed the process up.
And then she dies.

The gods are busy, but they hear her prayers. Even the small cicada’s hopes get noticed.
“What do you think, do we change the schedule?” asks Jehovah.
Shiva and Zeus convene a focus group.
“It wouldn’t work,” the panel votes. “Those leaf eaters would strip the trees and crops if we let them come back every year.”
“That’s true,” Jehovah reasons. “Remember that plague of locusts I sent down?”
“Are locusts the same as cicadas?” asks a minor deity from Burma.
“Yeah, a while back someone changed the name. Same difference.”
“Okay, well, then I guess it’s settled. No shift in policy. They’ll have to serve their time.”

See Authors page for Gita’s bio.



by Paul de Denus

My old man was a veteran from the school of hard knocks. He never missed an opportunity to teach me what that was all about… how it felt… how it stung… how I’d remember. Once, a punch to the neck left me half paralyzed on the carpet. The old man trailed a heavy foot, dragging it over my head as he sauntered to the fridge for another refill of fun. That kind of fun got him down the road for serious jail time. I guess I took that same broken path.

My bed used to feel comfortable, fluffed and entangled with caverned blankets and heady pillows. The sheets here are thin as tissue paper and rash my skin. I could have sworn they just changed them. The pillows encourage no dreams. I’m comforted sleeping on the floor. I’ve been there before. My thoughts bounce around a bit, circle up to the vertical bars and return. I’ll straighten it out once I take care of this.

He’s coming down the hall now carrying a tray of medicinal drinks and pills. His face shifts to that of a black man… disguised as an orderly like he’s here to help calm things. The dude makes the same clopping sound as the old man, not quite as heavy but still dangerous. He don’t fool me. I’ve been this way before. I know who he is. This time I’m ready for him. His key in the cell door, my shiv awaits.

See Authors page for Paul’s bio.



by Michael D. Brown

The cosmologist said, “An egg can become an omelet, but you can’t unmake an omelet,” and felt he had explained entropy for those of us too slow to grasp the technical terms.
Concurrent with his explanation, Jan was talking about how we had fallen into a static trap. We were going nowhere in our relationship.
I guess I had the television on to drown out her voice, and my responsive thoughts, but I could still make out bits of both.
“Without aging or metabolism or anything like that, it’s just random fluctuations.”
“Will you pay attention to what I’m saying? Am I just a blip on your radar?”
I was thinking, yes, when you start speaking in clichés, I don’t hear anything progressing.
The erstwhile commentator announced a station break, and it crossed my mind that a program such as this one should have been broadcast on public television. Jan must have seized upon my look of disinterest because she suddenly remarked, “And you paid that gardener seventy dollars. It doesn’t look as if this grass is growing at all.”
I had a wicked premonition it would green and thrive if her corpse were feeding it from underneath. It was momentary, but cruel even for me. I anticipated the cosmologist’s return, and perhaps a solution to our own problems. I think he was onto something when he stated after leaving a room of neatly stacked paper, a mess would not shock, but the other way round would freak us out.

See Authors page for Michael’s bio.



by Sandra Davies

With the arrival of the main course, helping themselves to rice and nan bread, flicking fingers to dissipate heat, they talked of other things, and each found much to like in the other once they moved away from topics where they were unavoidably opposed. Afterwards, and after some minor wrangling over the bill, Luke insisting so that, as he said, ‘we can do this again when it’s your turn to pay,’ Luke asked Ed ‘Will you be seeing Baz again? ‘
‘I certainly intend to keep in touch with him, with both of them. Not to sound too … interfering or big-headed, I want to see if I can get them together again, sooner rather than later. Someone has to act as go-between and I’m willing to try.’
‘Then will you tell him I said ‘What about Susannah’? Make sure he knows that I’m not in any way intending that as a reason, an excuse or means of revenge because it isn’t. That wasn’t at all why it happened, such a thing never entered my mind, and the only reason I mention it is because it might help him get things in perspective.’
‘’What about Susannah?’ Okay, I’ll do that, and will let you know what he says, if anything.’
‘If you think it … helpful, tell him I am sorry … but I doubt it will be.’
‘It won’t.’

See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.


Illustrations for Spot 039 supplied by Sandra Davies.


2 Comments to “Spot 039: Time Shifting”

  1. Maybe it’s the mood I’m currently in, but there seems to be something claustrophobic about this selection … I am glad to be reminded of listening to cicads in your garden, Gita. Paul once again evokes casual brutality in a way that is sharply painful and Michael reveals an even nastier side.

  2. Interesting and satisfying takes, NONE of which I’d have considered. That’s the beauty of mudspots.

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