by Kirby Wright

Published in Issue No. 295 ~ December, 2021

A man flops on a park bench. He reflects on losses and near misses, disappointments stored like copper coins in a mayo jar. His pennies wait years to get cashed. He peels off a patch of forearm skin murdered by the Indian summer. A school bell sounds—girls in skirts arrive. The Helens of Troy tease with bouncy strides, legs flexing freckles and beauty marks. The man stares before lowering his eyes. He retreats to his Tesla.


The Tesla eases into a cluttered garage. There’s everything from half-empty oil containers to seasonal decorations to surplus toilet paper. The snoop five doors south casts an inquisitive eye while squirting his ragged lawn. The man powers down the garage door and enters his castle. “We want pizza for dinner!” his son and daughter chorus. Wife watches flatscreen Netflix sipping a blue energy drink laced with vodka.


The man feels the final curtain. He recalls the blonde teen next door that peeked at him through a hole in their fence. “Might sound crazy,” he muttered beside his droopy tree fern, “but can this angel be my second chance after college?” He often heard parents yelling and cussing. He felt bad for the girl. His boy sometimes played volleyball with her on the asphalt in a brotherly way. Still, he was jealous. Then a For Sale sign sprouted the Friday after Thanksgiving. Buyers swarmed like hornets. The sign was uprooted a week before Christmas—the angel of suburbia wedged a pink suitcase in the cargo area of her mother’s SUV, climbed in, and rode shotgun down the hill. The man hustled to the curb. “Shoulda said bye-bye,” he scolded himself. He watched until the SUV hung a left at the stop sign and vanished behind an ash tree.


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Kirby Wright was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is a graduate of Punahou School in Honolulu and the University of California at San Diego. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Wright has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and is a past recipient of the Jodi Stutz Memorial Prize in Poetry, the Ann Fields Poetry Prize, the Academy of American Poets Award, the Robert Browning Award for Dramatic Monologue, and Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellowships in Poetry and The Novel. BEFORE THE CITY, his first poetry collection, took First Place at the 2003 San Diego Book Awards. Wright is also the author of the companion novels PUNAHOU BLUES and MOLOKA’I NUI AHINA, both set in Hawaii. He was a Visiting Fellow at the 2009 International Writers Conference in Hong Kong, where he represented the Pacific Rim region of Hawaii. He was also a Visiting Writer at the 2010 Martha’s Vineyard Residency in Edgartown, Mass., and the 2011 Artist in Residence at Milkwood International, Czech Republic. His futuristic novel THE END, MY FRIEND was published in 2013. He published SQUARE DANCING AT THE ASYLUM, a collection of flash fiction, in 2014.