—after Alison Knowles
#1 Where Was That Saguaro?
The performer is a woman on a hiking trail, just off the edge of the city. The sun and moon are having it out in the sky, one too eager, the other unwilling, and the sky is a blue losing interest. It’s dimming shut like a computer screen. Fading like jeans. Like the jeans the woman is wearing, the woman who is standing still and looking up, estimating the hour. Eight? Eight-thirty? She didn’t mean to be here. She is surrounded by jumping cholla, rock and gravel, rustles in what’s dry and dead. She remembers passing a saguaro. Tall, one-armed, with cactus wren pecks slashed into its green. Where is it?
#2 Fire-Breathers Take Over the Street
A street in the suburbs, quiet and neat. Careful landscaping in the median: pink gravel, palo verde trees. To the left of the road the scant audience can see a pet clinic. To the right, an entrance to a gated community. (The houses are sprawling, adobe-inspired.) The street is empty and abandoned until something orange flashes in the distance. Then another flash, and another, and suddenly the flashes are orange and flickering, orange and leaping, lumbering up and over the asphalt hill. The fire spews forth and retracts, shoots up and shoots in. Fire cartwheels, fire tumbles, fire does perfect-ten backflips. Are those people? They’re gone before the scant audience sees. A car drives past, following the speed limit.
#3 IHOP after 10 p.m.
The first sound is the clatter of forks on plates, then plates on hard carpet, then the startled gasps of pancake eaters. The performer is a young woman wearing a church-length skirt and a t-shirt. At the performer’s feet, forks and pieces of plate and pancake gather like disciples. She doesn’t gasp with the other eaters. While the others watch and the waitress leaves, the performer stands still as a suburb, still as a secret, and all the pancake eaters sit bathed in the still. One pancake eater thinks, still here. Another thinks, this again, this still? Still another thinks, but still...
#4 La Llorana
Three performers sit on the bridge. Their legs swing above the lake that’s in the middle of the city. The performer on the far right whispers her deepest, darkest secret to the performer sitting on her left. The performer who listens to the deepest, darkest secret stands up and dives into the dark water beneath her. When she reemerges, she swims to the shore, walks to the sidewalk, and walks back to her place on the bridge. She sits down and, to the performer on her left, whispers her own deepest, darkest secret. The performer who listens to the secret dives into the dark water, reemerges, swims to the shore, walks to the sidewalk, and walks back to her place on the bridge. The sequence is repeated with secrets of diminishing intensity (i.e. second deepest darkest secret, third deepest darkest secret, etc.).
Victoria Miluch is an MFA candidate at Indiana University, and the former Fiction Editor of the Indiana Review. Her fiction and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in Passages North, The Adroit Journal, and the Denver Quarterly.