PROSETRY | Come to Me by Anne Earney

Winter 2011 Prosetry Winner

Anne Earney


“Drink this,” she said. She pushed my face toward her breast. “Drink up.”

I didn’t want to look away from her face, but I did as I was told. I rolled my eyes up to catch her look of rapture as I pretended to drink. My questions stayed inside so as not to disturb her. I put her actions in the category of behavior I called Strange Habits of the Wealthy.

A few days later I sat on the edge of the bed, the rumpled bedclothes behind me smelling of stale smoke and sweat. I noticed my clothing was looser. My feedings were failing to nourish my body, but that was no surprise.

“Come to me,” she said, crawling back under the messy covers. “Tell me you need me.”

I told her whatever she wanted to hear. I’d only known her a week but I couldn’t live without her. She dabbed perfume on the soft spots of her body in the intervals of absence and I breathed it in, dizzy with a desire to possess her, to become part of her world. My feet no longer touched the floor.

When my clothing was no longer wearable, she sent for a tailor. She was not worried.

“Tell me you’ll never leave me.”

Those clothes were soon too large as well. She cradled me in her arms at night, my feet barely brushing her knees. Dizzy with hunger, I nibbled on the ends of her fingers as she slept.

I didn’t leave the bedroom until the day she picked me up and placed me on her hip. As she carried me out to the kitchen, I wondered at how many years had passed since I’d last wrapped small arms around a woman’s neck. Surely no one picks up a child older than five or six, so at least thirty years. Yet it felt so natural, so naughty. Habits One Ought Not to Have.

“See the snow?”

Wet white kisses on the windowpane. Atmospheric fallout. I was so thirsty.

The tailor did not ask questions when he was brought to the bedroom.

“My baby,” she said. She stroked my head, her hand soft as my cheeks and smelling of rose water.

Anne Earney lives in St. Louis with her husband and several well-mannered cats. She earned her MFA from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Her fiction has been published or is forthcoming in journals such as REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, Caper Literary Review, The Bat Shat, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Natural Bridge, The Linnet’s Wings, Six Little Things, Night Train, and Versal. She is currently working on a Gothic novel.

You Must Hold the Baby Like This

Winter 2011 Prosetry Runner Up

Mel Bosworth


Wheat spaghetti in a pot of boiling water. A steamy windowpane. Outside, the grass is white with evening frost. Tommy runs through the yard toward the house, tongue wagging. My older sister is coming for dinner with her clown baby. Yes, her clown baby. Her caregiver called to tell me so. I reminded her to tell my sister to keep to the sidewalks. Safer. The clown baby likes peas on its spaghetti. It thinks the peas are eyes and that the spaghetti is watching. My sister thinks this, too. She’ll scuff her boots on the brown welcome mat but she’ll forget to close the door. Starving birds will gape on the power lines, consider the opportunity, decide against it. The feeder on the back porch is empty. No more sunflower seeds. No more anything, not even clawed bits of newspaper. If you feed them year round, some birds won’t migrate. The gray squirrels have gorged their cheeks, readying themselves for winter. Before my sister arrives with her clown baby, I’ll remind Tommy it’s impolite to stare. Even when she holds her fork funny. Even when she chews with her mouth open. Even when she swipes at the invisible birds circling her head. He’ll know she’s only protecting her baby. He’ll know because I’ve told him before. After his father used the words “fucking retard” because his favorite white mug was now painted blue. Because he didn’t know the clown baby only drinks from blue mugs. Because he didn’t know anything about the clown baby and didn’t want to. Ever. After his father kicked chairs, slammed doors. After the sun slipped behind the hills and the rooms echoed with the loudness of empty. When the word “family” still meant something, at least to me. Now, though, I keep my eye on the pot of spaghetti. I stir it with a wooden spoon. I know it’ll be ready soon. Tender. I wipe my hands on my apron and keep my eye on the front window, too. I want to make sure my sister hasn’t lost her nerve. She’ll return home if she has, and her clown baby will cry for hours if it’s hungry. Sometimes she forgets how long it’s been since I stopped feeding the birds. Those with enough strength have moved on. Only the desperate and weak continue to linger. I see them at the Texaco station pecking at cigarette butts. I hear them scuttling in the eaves looking for crumbs, warmth. I feel one bird in particular watching us in the parking lot of Stop & Shop. I imagine it hunkered low, beak flexing sadly. Tommy rides in the carriage, pretends it’s a tank. My sister’s clown baby waves at strangers. I look straight ahead at the claw machine just outside the automatic doors, unwilling to lessen its shame with a forgiving glance. For this bird my feeder will remain empty, and I have to go now because my sister is skipping up the walkway with her clown baby.

Mel Bosworth is the author of the fiction chapbook When the Cats Razzed the Chickens (Folded Word Press, 2009), the novella Grease Stains, Kismet, and Maternal Wisdom (Brown Paper Publishing, 2010) and the novel Freight (coming 2011 from Folded Word Press). His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in elimae, PANK, Per Contra, Wigleaf, BLIP Magazine, Annalemma, decomP, Dark Sky Magazine, >kill author, Emprise Review, and Night Train, among others. Mel lives, breathes, writes, and works in western Massachusetts.

MMR 2011 Anthology | Coming Soon



Stories, poetry and artwork by award-winning and emerging authors, poets, and artists. Moon Milk Review 2011 is a ravishing exhibition of what happens when the boundaries come off. A “refreshing departure…edgy…classic…compelling” (Flavorwire), MMR 2011 promises to take readers and art aficionados to places they’ve never been. Cover Art, “Of the Scales,” by Alexis Covato (original: acrylics on canvas).

 “…refreshing departure…edgy…classic …compelling.” —Flavorwire

 “…eye-grabbing…fun …bold…inviting…exemplary.” —Sabotage

Lisa Marie Basile| Jennifer Hollie Bowles | Alexandra Chasin | Feng Chen | Jackie Corley | Alexis Covato | Francis DiClemente | Jim Fuess | Luisa María García Velasco | Christine Herzer | Karen Heuler | Scott Alexander Jones | Ben Loory | Jim Meirose | Kristine Ong Muslim | Gary Percesepe | Mark Reep | Laura Ellen Scott | Serena Tome | J. A. Tyler | David Wagoner | Luke Wallin | Ian Watson | Vallie Lynn Watson | David Wolf | Shelly Zacharia