The food court is a desert, undergoing renovations, and the fast food burger chain has run
out of Happy Meals. Instead, they are selling Tragedy Meals. The French fries are soggy,
despite their coating of abrasive salt, the kind they use to melt ice on the sidewalk. The
sandwich is a bun, inside a bun, inside another bun, slathered in mayonnaise of dubious
None of the water fountains are working, the planes are grounded, lost in a storm of dust,
and the flights have been delayed for months. The women braid each other's hair. The men
braid each other's beards.
The smell of the bathrooms is its own forbiddance, nearly a solid wall. The travelers form a
circle and begin a rotating dance like a hora, circles within circles, tendrils breaking off
toward the gates, where they sleep, so they will always be ready to depart. Meanwhile, a child
is dowsing for water with a pair of disposable wooden chopsticks.
A man wears a coat he made from his fears. It does not keep him warm or dry. The color is
not pleasing to look upon. Humidity makes it slimy. The pockets are filled with horrible
things he did not mean to collect, but they needed a place. It even has exquisitely tenuous
tailoring; each seam verges on disintegration.
Spiders, earwigs, and centipedes are drawn to it like lint. The coat tightens, nearly cutting off
circulation, at high altitudes. Every now and then while he wears it, he feels naked. He feels
as though he is about to give a presentation, naked, in a class he does not remember
The fears are happy to be shown-off where ever he goes. They cling tightly to goose bumps.
They feast on cold sweats and the coat becomes thicker. He continues wearing it, because if
you keep your fears close, you may come to understand them, and if you understand
something, maybe you can control it. It is a small comfort; sometimes, that’s enough.
Ori Fienberg has had fiction published as prose poetry, prose poetry published as fiction, and each published as they are in many places including Diagram, Pank, Mid American Review, and Subtropics. By day he telecommutes to work for the College of Professional Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. By night he explores, with his fiancee and her dog, the finest bridges Pittsburgh, PA has to offer. Monthly musing and links to other pieces can be found at OJConfesses.