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Tiny Shadows
by Maryanne Stahl

art by Robinson Accola
art by Robinson Accola
When he got home, she was gone.

At first, he wasn't aware of anything amiss. The dog snoozed in the yard; the mail lay on the dining room table. The furniture, which he had inherited, stood in place.

He made himself some coffee (French pressed) and carried his cup into the living room. That's when he began to intuit something off in the air, to sniff the delicate absence of her scent.

His eye was inevitably drawn to one of his earliest prizes. The Fire Prevention Week Essay Award had tilted in its frame, so he moved to straighten it. Then he saw that the Certificate of Excellence in Punctuation lay crooked. Further, his letter of selection into Volume XXXIII of America's Poets on Either Side of the Mississippi had fallen, and the actual tome ($19.95; $22.95 with a gilded frontispiece) had been shelved upside down!

Something was noticeably different about the light.

Then he saw the letter, propped against the photograph of him accepting his Trophy of Good Standing (luckily his misspelled name was out of focus in the shot), written in her inimitable (but somewhat larger than usual) hand:

She had had enough; she spelled it out for him: I can no longer bear to live beneath the twenty-seven tiny shadows of your accomplishments.

All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2014 by its authors.



Maryanne Stahl, author of novels The Opposite Shore and Forgive the Moon, lives in Thunderbolt, Georgia. She teaches English and Creative Writing at Savannah Arts Academy. Her most recent work is the very limited edition of Max in Montauk, which she wrote for her grandson, the world's most beautiful boy. For more about her work and her worries about the Dalai Lama, visit her blog: maryannestahl.blogspot.com.

Read the interview.

Robinson Accola creates artwork for SmokeLong Quarterly on an as-needed basis.
Issue Twenty-One (June 15, 2008): Paper Mouse by Bob Arter «» The Folk Singer Dreams of Time Machines by Matt Bell «» The Bone Orchard by Randall Brown «» Disease Relics by Blake Butler «» We Decided to Make Porn by Brian Allen Carr «» The Baby Drop-Off by Natascia Casey-Dean «» The Cougar by Dave Clapper «» Anointed by Myfanwy Collins «» Sister Earth by John Colvin «» Soap by Katrina Denza «» The Interpretation of Light by Murray Dunlap «» The Hole by Ashley Farmer «» Repair Man by Kathy Fish «» In the Kitchen She Wakes by Stefanie Freele «» American Gothic by Scott Garson «» Lobster Girl by Alicia Gifford «» Pen and Notebook by Natalie Goldberg «» Memento Mori by Rosanne Griffeth «» BiC by Steven Gullion «» Parting by Evelyn Hampton «» Tuesday by Lindsay Hunter «» Waiting on Lombard Street by W.P. Kinsella «» Johnny by Nance Knauer «» Like Swimming by Jeff Landon «» Feeling Sad by Darby Larson «» Alone With Cooper by Ellen Meister «» The Angel's Visitation by Corey Mesler «» South Dakota by Mary Miller «» California Fruit by Meg Pokrass «» Home Made by Bruce Holland Rogers «» Handful of Dirt by Jim Ruland «» Steam City Girl by Paul Silverman «» Sugar by Claudia Smith «» The 13th Toast by Amy Sparks «» Gathering by Kelly Spitzer «» Tiny Shadows by Maryanne Stahl «» Double-Exposure by Thomas White «» Epistemology by Joseph Young «» Why This Isn't a Good Story to Tell by Shellie Zacharia «» Liquid by Michelle Zellers «» Real Estate by Bonnie ZoBell «» Interviews: Bob Arter «» Matt Bell «» Randall Brown «» Blake Butler «» Brian Allen Carr «» Natascia Casey-Dean «» Dave Clapper «» Myfanwy Collins «» John Colvin «» Katrina Denza «» Murray Dunlap «» Ashley Farmer «» Kathy Fish «» Stefanie Freele «» Scott Garson «» Alicia Gifford «» Rosanne Griffeth «» Steven Gullion «» Evelyn Hampton «» Lindsay Hunter «» Nance Knauer «» Jeff Landon «» Darby Larson «» Ellen Meister «» Corey Mesler «» Mary Miller «» Meg Pokrass «» Bruce Holland Rogers «» Jim Ruland «» Paul Silverman «» Claudia Smith «» Amy Sparks «» Kelly Spitzer «» Maryanne Stahl «» Thomas White «» Joseph Young «» Shellie Zacharia «» Michelle Zellers «» Bonnie ZoBell «» Cover Art "Five Years of SmokeLong" compiled from art by Marty D. Ison, Robert Dornberg, Malina, and Rebecca Gullickson «» Letter From the Editor
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