There by Len Kuntz

There is an underground attic inside of me that holds my damaged pieces.

Once, a boyfriend found the hiding place. He listened, tried to be tender. He swaddled me in soft cotton, whispering sugar into my ear. “Ashley,” he said, “it’s going to be all right.”

I wanted to believe him. I leaned close, heard my heart scudding up against his chest like a bumper car unable to find forward or reverse. But he was only a hard set of lungs, not at all pliant like I needed him to be, and so I knew. I knew he’d never understand.

You don’t expect the world to be fair, yet what a surprise to learn how evil it’s gotten, so clever and blatant, too.

We were cramped inside the transit, chins to chins. Overfilled with so many people, the bus felt sweaty, but safe. A second later, men wedged me into a corner, pressing and owning me with wire rope and a cloth gag while we rocked through the long black tunnel, strobe shadows ricocheting.

***

My father is learning to visit less. Yesterday he said, “It’s time you got out of that apartment.”

But he also didn’t believe at first. “It couldn’t have been more than two minutes,” he said. “Wasn’t there a crowd on the bus?”

I know the world is a heavy place for strong people, and so I keep lifting myself from one corner to the next. I am almost ready. Any day now, I’ll be there.

.

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11 Comments

Filed under Len Kuntz

11 responses to “There by Len Kuntz

  1. Meg Tuite

    So powerful, Len! Blew me away!!!

  2. What a haunting image, both of the bus and the slow escape from what happened there! Well done!

  3. powerful piece…a yearning for sanctuary, and the arc you trace of Ashley’s motions through the world, weighted by men…the not quite attuned boyfriend, the violators, the protective father with no heft and her slowly steadying herself for continued passage on her own terms

  4. Though it would seem impossible, you keep topping yourself, Len. The very beginning, with the conflict between attic and underground, starts it off exquisitely. Amazing piece.

  5. len kuntz

    thank you all so much for reading. i really appreciate it. this was a bit dark, even for me.

  6. Very dark but I found the ending full of hope. :)

  7. This is a fantastic story, Len. As everyone has said: so powerful. Your control over the movement and language is enviable. Terrific set up with the attic – underground dichotomy in the first line. Love those hard lungs, unpliant, and strobe shadows ricocheting, to call out only two. And and and. Perfect closing.

  8. Kelly

    now, that is a skill – to absent oneself as an author in favor of the character you portray, to inhabit them – this shows a curiosity about the lives of others, one of the things I very much admire in your work

  9. oh jesus len… heavy but so amazing. i remember reading on fb you’d written a really dark one, and you have, but it’s got this ‘umph’ to it that leaves me breathless and feeling, and there is that glimmer of hope, which is what all great writing does. peace…

  10. Pingback: Week #44 – Crowd | 52|250 A Year of Flash

  11. You leave me shifted after reading your work. You inhabit my being, your stories fill me up.

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