Rise, then Descend

      Nick Stokes
Rise, then Descend

A modern dispossessed man climbs a sacred mound that an ancient native civilization builds. They descend. Rise, then Descend, a short story, was first published in Crab Orchard Review, Vol. 18 #1.A modern dispossessed man climbs a sacred mound that an ancient native civilization builds. They descend. Rise, then Descend, a short story, was first published in Crab Orchard Review, Vol. 18 #1.From Rise, then Descend:"Did the ancients use walking sticks when climbing the mound? He’s not sure what kind of man needs a walking stick to walk. You just move your feet one front of the other. An old man might need a walking stick. But he is not old. He is old, compared to how old people used to get. Maybe are designed to get. He wishes he were old.Doctor said to use the hiking poles. That they’d give him a more thorough workout. Okay. That they’d save his knees on the way down that blessed mound however many times a day if that’s the way he had to do it. Okay. He didn’t need to pay for knee trouble too. That they’d ensure he doesn’t fall. He doesn’t believe in insurance and what kind of man falls climbing a hill? But okay. He does the hiking poles. Pansy, but that doesn’t stop him.His tremors don’t stop him.Thirty-five some-odd degree rain blowing horizontal in his face doesn’t stop him. Climbing in a monumental refrigerator he built back when he built refrigerators doesn’t stop him. Won’t see nobody up here today, which the opposite of stops him. Can’t see nothing from the top. Doesn’t stop him."

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    An End

      Nick Stokes
An End

The last survivors of the Community fight to live and die in authenticity and love while Others thrive: an account of an end of our species. An End, a short story, was first published by Mixer Publishing.The last survivors of the Community fight to live and die in authenticity and love while Others thrive: an account of an end of our species. An End, a short story, was first published by Mixer Publishing.From An End:"When Matthew returned there were twelve. He found the eleven others pressed shoulder to shoulder under a corrugated metal roof like thick lines of Others waiting to plug in and make their dull eyes bright. He listened to the rain on the roof. Twelve seemed too many. No matter, all love. The rain stopped and the twelve dispersed to their digging, planting, hoeing, picking, macheteing, cooking, eating, conversing, excreting, to their coffee, to their macadamia, and to their cane.Matthew returned to the routine of the days. He forgot to count them. It did not take him long to not think anything of note. The other Community members spoke often, but often without expressing clear thoughts. He occasionally spoke to Mary of nothing. He had a conversation with Maggie that caused him unhappiness. He did not think about it. It was forgotten. He worked in silence."

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    What Never Happened: An Observation

      Nick Stokes
What Never Happened: An Observation

An observant boy goes to the park, returns home, and has a conversation with his mother in a fabricated, unlikely, never-happened, plausible, impossible, invented, realistic coming-of-age story. What Never Happened: An Observation, a short story, was first published in Waccamaw, Issue 7.An observant boy goes to the park, returns home, and has a conversation with his mother in a fabricated, unlikely, never-happened, plausible, impossible, invented, realistic coming-of-age story. What Never Happened: An Observation, a short story, was first published in Waccamaw, Issue 7.From What Never Happened, An Observation:I was a boy. (Dear reader, for the last time I say to you, please remember that this is only a story, meant to comfort friends, relations, and acquaintances, and as such it only exists in your head and those heads who have heard it.) As a boy, I was not especially different than other boys, though I was somewhat indifferent towards them. Of girls, I remember the existence of none save my mother and other assorted relatives: a passel of cousins, an aunt, and a grandmother. I was predominantly interested in myself, though not in a selfish way. I was simply not aroused by games of sport or make-believe or conversation. Allow me to make myself clear: sport, make-believe, and conversation were three of my most cherished pastimes, but they were activities I preferred to conduct with myself. With others these pastimes were diluted, somehow losing their piquancy.What I was most passionate about, though, was observing. I would sit for hours in the same spot, quietly taking mental note of my surroundings. I would not speak my observations, nor would I write them down. I would simply take mental note of the position of a fork on a table, of the number of tines it had, of the sharpness of those tines, of the curvature of the head, of how gracefully the head met the handle at the neck, of any ornamentation on the handle, of any fingerprints. I would note the construction of the table, how its disparate parts were joined, the lay of the grain of the wood, the pattern of the sunlight splashed on the tabletop, the angle of sunlight entering through the window, the shape of a leaf outside the window. When I could fit words to my observations, I did (silently), but I never forced the issue. I did not wish to force my surrounding reality to conform to words if no words were adequate. For example, if the pattern of light on the table was rhombic, I would say so silently to myself, and so too if I could say with reasonable probability that the light passing through the window (forgiving refraction) entered the kitchen at an angle of 30, 45, or 60 degrees while my mother spread peanut butter and jelly on bread for me, I would use just those words. But more often than not, the pattern of light was decidedly unrhombic and indeed indescribable, just as the angle of the sunlight’s penetration was generally immeasurable and inestimable. In such instances, I would wordlessly observe and make wordless mental note. The words, after all, were not what I was after. Words were merely tools. I was after the thing itself.

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    1 Day

      Nick Stokes
1 Day

A single mother teaches high school literature, parents her young son, and fights through a day. 1 Day, a novelette, was first published by the literary journal Prick of the Spindle.A single mother teaches high school literature, parents her young son, and fights through a day. 1 Day, a novelette, was first published by the literary journal Prick of the Spindle.From 1 Day:"She thinks about making a new letter grade with the top paper on the stack and rolling a J, but she hasn’t smoked pot in a decade and she has a dependent relationship with her job and she doubts it’d be the responsible decision with Max asleep upstairs. She believes in free choice, but she hasn’t encountered it lately, and she’d prefer that her 4-year-old not spark up for a while yet. She gets a beer.She writes some things on some papers. Some advice on spelling, grammar, logic. She makes no suggestions about having worthwhile ideas, or pursuing worthwhile objectives. Spelling has rules, grammar has logic, logic has … She corrects ellipses use. She invents some new letters to write at the top of the first pages. Or rather borrows, a CH from Spanish, an Å from Danish, an Œ from Latin; she doesn't know how to invent a letter."

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