pages Avarice

by Bruce Burrows

Published in Issue No. 12 ~ May, 1998

He believes he loves a kaleidoscope; the turn of her neck brings replacement, a new stranger to discover.

Seven unopened bottles of French drinking water sit on the cement next to her. Two empties rock slightly in the breeze. Another, half empty in her hand, becomes lighter as she pours along the lines of her body, nowhere near her mouth. This is more than hedging against heat. Each bottle is a speech. Extravagance, decadence. Greed.

He downs the last of his lemonade and crouches at the edge of the pool, watching the movement of her arm in the shadow stretched across the water.

“Can I have one of those?”


He nods. This voice he knows, no matter the face. The voice that makes him invent chants or quote Russian authors in his head. He turns his eyes from the scene and looks down the lip of the pool. That amazing sun is making jewels dance in the concrete. What are those? Like small pieces of broken glass, always afraid they would cut the bottom of his feet. What do they do for the concrete?

He starts at the sound of the empty bottle on the patio, and his head snaps up to watch the shadow. Dropping back on rigid arms, he turns his head so the sun will throw his profile to her.

“You know, when I was little, my older sister took these classes after school. Which fork to use, books on her head, that kind of stuff. You know?”

“Yeah.” Her fingers open the next bottle. “So?”

“I was just thinking about it for some reason. Going to pick her up. My mom came for me, and then we drove over together and got her.”

She smiles and her eyes dance under the sunglasses as she watches the sweat diminish on his back, as if the drops are moving away from her. “In the station wagon? Oh, yeah,” she says, “that helped.”

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Bruce earned his MFA in Writing & Poetics at The Naropa Institute. Despite this, he works as a Software Consultant based in San Francisco, spending most of his life in airplanes and hotels. His work has appeared in various publications, including The Little Magazine, Spike, & Bombay Gin.