SmokeLong Quarterly
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The Hole
by Ashley Farmer

Durango by Brook Erin Barman
Durango, photograph by Brook Erin Barman
My father rests his chin on the shovel's handle. The hole before him begs to be deeper. Gone already—redbud trees, patches of violet peeled away like a bandage. Goodbye ragged hammock. Goodbye, tire swing. My father used to be President of the Neighborhood Homeowner's Association. He doesn't know he's been impeached. Neither neighbor nor impeached mean anything. My mother mostly looks out the window. She's become Special Occasion religious. She parts the red kitchen curtains and says Jesus Christ in a voice reserved for car accidents. She wakes me in the night to help her apply Special Occasion makeup. We count the lines in her face. My brother counts the shovel strikes aloud. Shovel dings rock: a star collapsing. My father tells us kids not to go anywhere, we have to take turns guarding the hole. When a bagger at the grocery asks me to the movies, I tell him I'm busy. He says I hope you don't fall in. My brother, sister and I rig a rappelling device. At the bottom of the hole we shine like dimes. My brother was born with gills, remnants like pinpricks above his ears. My sister can float like a kite—the year she turned thirteen, we kept a rope around her waist. When the hole reaches beyond the sides of the house, my mother no longer believes it will bring us the forgiveness each of us needs. She packs a suitcase, calls a cab, waits at the end of the driveway. I part the curtains with my hands. I hold my breath until she has gone. I fall asleep. I dream of boats. The hole has become a lake. The hole has become a breathing body. The current drags lawn chairs across our neighbor's yard. My father is gone. I step off the porch into chin-deep water. I duck below the surface, grab my brother's waist, kick. In the sky above, our pajama-footed sister waves us east.

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

Ashley Farmer is a creative writing student at Syracuse University. Her work has appeared in ATOMICA Magazine, McSweeney's Internet Tendency and elsewhere.

Read the interview.

Brook Erin Barman lives in California but wants to live in Texas. She splits her time between traveling, writing, taking pictures, and making coffee for the masses. She did her undergraduate work in Fine Art at San Diego State University. Her work can be seen at
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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