Rae Pagliarulo


              Evening Breeze | Delores Peffley

              Evening Breeze | Delores Peffley

Carriage Release


The morning after I lost my virginity,

I woke to a familiar mechanical

whirring in the living room. He was writing

a letter, I realized, on the mammoth blue Selectric


that made the lights dim when you plugged

it in. He left the note on the table, half the words

misspelled and a Chapstick kiss on the seam.

He loved me. The Selectric told me so.


I tried to use it all the time, but god,

the labored buzzing it gave off, the spike

in the electric bill, and it took up half

the table, impossible to move. I gave it away


to a friend newly infatuated with the romance

of ink and key, told her she had to pick it up

herself. I like to think the black tubular

platen still bore the imprint of post coital


love notes, that the ink felt its distance

from me and dried up, that every time she punched

her fingers down to hear the gunshot

letters, she felt my stories there.




Deep in the night, I would hear it through the wall

the grunt, the rhythm, Frankie’s smoke-laced throat

calling out her name, please Jess, there Jess,

yes Jess. They knew we lived next door, their

front step ever colored by my sidewalk

chalk. Their room and mine were separated

by a single sheet of cheap wood paneling

and a few rotting beams.

Sometimes Jess would whisper Wait, wait, and

turn on the vacuum cleaner,

leaving it to suck and suck and suck

the same spot on the floor. Clutching

my pillow, I’d shimmy my little body against the

water-stained particleboard wall and press my ear to it

hard. I could almost feel the Bissell humming

impotently, endlessly. I could almost feel

the springs of the hand-me-down mattress

fighting to keep them aloft, aloft, aloft. I could

almost feel the place where their dingy second-floor

apartment merged with my frilly pink

bedroom. I could almost feel it, almost, and then

the silence that burst between them, the sudden

click of the vacuum’s off switch, the muffled crack

of Frankie’s matchbook, the phosphorous igniting

as he lit another smoke.




RAE PAGLIARULO is an MFA Creative Writing Candidate at Rosemont College. Her work has been featured in Daedalus: A Magazine of the Arts, Full Grown People, and Philadelphia Stories, and is anthologized in The Best of Philadelphia Stories: 10th Anniversary Edition. She is also the 2014 recipient of the Sandy Crimmins National Poetry Prize and a 2015 Pushcart Prize Nominee. She works in the nonprofit development field in Philadelphia.