Pickling Salts This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

November 29, 2011
She said she couldn't feel anything anymore. It was 3:33 p.m. on a Thursday and she was standing under silently screaming lights announcing hello and good-bye and be there soon. It was Thursday because the ruddy red tearstains on her cheeks were brighter and they traced her wrists, her collarbones, her ankles, her feet. I told her I loved her and she believed me. She kissed me. She said, Would you like to come home with me tonight?


We boarded the train.

She kept a hand over my shoulder, ushered me to a seat. Sit. Look at shoes. Trace a map of trans-Atlantic webs on cabin floor. Press cold flesh against open anger.

Sometimes I nosebleed, she whispers. Cups my ear: Rose bleed. Prose beat. Snow seed. Nonsense words that exist only to fill silent space.

I hear her heartbeat but she says it is only an illusion. I do not understand, and she washes my ignorance in saline. People are starting to look.

Cold nose to warm tears. Turn back to masses, takes me onto lap. Face the window. She starts to whisper, thrum, pluck rhythmic brittle raw story strings.

Rust on iron on earth chained to wheels over tracks bridges over rivers. The sun lowers behind dressing screen clouds. Fog, lights, shoes scrape over webs and leave the cabin. We are alone, single light bulb overhead, engine humming. My ear to her collarbone. She stops speaking and starts using words.

Let me tell you a story, she says. She strokes my hair, bony fingers tracing skull ridges, the other hand clenched so tightly it turns white. Pause.

Raining outside. Fog coating window reflecting train car lighting back at us. Bitter, seductive, stinging scent on the air. Throbbing, gasping, dissonant calm in my ear, she speaks.

Some time after there was a dollhouse. There were hot summer days and dry, dusty air. The sparkle of shattered windows in the soil. Before that there were movies and talking and baking and pristine walls. There was order. There was ignorance and blasphemy that held me down and forced the truth into me, ran me into trees. There was a glass cage that ­wasn't even minded, because it kept us in for our own good. And there was time, and time ate our bodies and mailed us replacements. It lets me talk to you. Oh, how endless and still the galaxy was, but how time changed down here.

Silence swallows sound and rain comes down again. Wood shaking, grazing over metal over stone. The light bulb stays on, but dark sleep still enters.

Brittle morning light through melting window, she stands. Touches my shoulder, breathes in spun glass from the outdoors. Time to go, she says. I follow her. Past the webs, the conductors, the platform, the station.

Hardly any people out on cobblestone streets. Air hangs heavy with harvest. She pulls away from the town. It is her home, and it is New Year's, she says, and it feels lonely, but a good kind of lonely. Hollow. A scrubbed-raw kind of feeling. Ice water on flushed hot cheeks. The world feels good, she says. But just for now.

Silent footsteps on sidewalk. Footprints in snow, the turn of a key in the lock and a blast of warm air.


Don't go.

Warm flesh pulled from soggy wet stockings. Slap of bare feet on wood flooring. The door clicks shut behind me and I follow her. She pours a glass of wine. I knock the bottle over.

Don't go.

Velvet skin brushing my ears, ragged nails through my hair. Shards of glass and red wine spilled, digging into our feet. Dragged up upon the bed. Reading glasses on nightstand, dried red streaking virgin white sheets.

Nails digging into skin. Teeth on scarred flesh.

She is sobbing, stroking my head, pressing kisses to wet, black nose. She smells old and young, perfectly preserved, sculpted, and pickled in salt and placed in the wind to weather the years.

Good dog, she says. Good dog.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 14 comments. Post your own now!

JoshuaChen said...
Jan. 12, 2013 at 11:45 am
"Warm flesh pulled from soggy wet stockings. Slap of bare feet on wood flooring. The door clicks shut behind me and I follow her. She pours a glass of wine. I knock the bottle over." Here's another example. What exactly is "warm flesh?" It's too unclear, especially for the pace of the story. If the dog can comprehend wine, he should be ableto comprehend shoes, or whatever the he'll "warm flesh" is supposed to mean. ----------------------------------------------------------- Use this sort of lan... (more »)
JoshuaChen replied...
Jan. 12, 2013 at 11:47 am
*You use this sort of language
Haytham.Eschate said...
Jan. 1, 2013 at 5:45 pm
I really liked this. The story was interesting and the ending was great. The one thing I would say is that you use the word "she" a lot, which makes the piece sound repetitive, particularly in the first paragraph. But overall it was good
Lover-of-the-Sloths This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 29, 2012 at 12:25 pm
It was beautiful. Don't change a thing.
amrex13 said...
Dec. 22, 2012 at 12:20 pm
I loved how vague it was. Right when you start to think you get it, it goes into a deeper level. Great work.
pcullen79 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 21, 2012 at 3:24 pm
love your style
ThePope said...
Dec. 20, 2012 at 10:14 am
                First of all your passage of time was a little weird and at times confusing. The story went from what seemed to be her at home, to her asking if this person wanted to come home with her, then they are on a train talking like old friends. The cute language didn’t really work either. The technique I presume you were trying to use was to integrate short choppy sentences to show how fast things were movi... (more »)
flywiththebirds replied...
Jan. 1, 2013 at 6:25 pm
What are you talking about? There was no man. It was the dog the whole time; that was the point of the last sentence being "Good dog."
JoshuaChen said...
Dec. 15, 2012 at 9:46 am
It's good. But the end could be a bit clearer. You tried to make that sort of vague, animal voice, and you did it well. But they moved between settings so fast -- from the train station to the streets to her home -- that it would have helped if you made your descriptions there more specific.
AlexanderQ said...
Dec. 8, 2012 at 10:55 am
Your ability to tell a story is very good. So many emotions wound perfectly into the story. It was fantastic. If you could take the time to read, comment and rate my work, it would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
tracetrace This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 7, 2012 at 1:05 pm
It's brilliant. Wonderful writing style. I absolutely loved it.
PenAndInkPrincess said...
Dec. 6, 2012 at 9:21 pm
This was beautiful! I was enchanted from the start, and hooked onto your story telling. 
Ellie S. said...
Dec. 5, 2012 at 5:53 pm
Absolutely incredible. I love the extended metaphore, and it was so cleverly written. You had subtle forshadowing that made me wonder, and makes such sense when I reread it, but I still wouldn't have guessed it was a dog until the very end, and all the way up until the very sentence when it's made obvious, it is still convincing of an entirely different situation. It really goes to show that everything is in perpective. It's so well written, I love your ... (more »)
Oliviaw said...
Nov. 23, 2012 at 7:32 pm
Hey I really like this piece. Your writing style is very mature and I liked that while I somewhat understood what was happening in the story, at the same time it was very personal and close to you. Great job.
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