Mom’s going to be pissed. See, we slung wrist rockets around our arms and flung fistfuls of gravel at the sun. Watched it break, slow at first, like a filament bulb flickers–––hairline cracks climbing up a fishbowl of fire and light. The sky turned a molten blue, but only for a moment. You know, that primordial magma leaked and then flooded the air in a tidal wave of liquid light. People screamed and ducked under cars, were you one of them? Some boarded up windows, others asked God the difficult questions. It wasn’t until the darkness came that the world really began to change, though. The poppies in Mom’s flower box looked like blackface cherubs whistling in the icewind. Animal was king, making dens of rusted out automobiles. Grazing on abandoned football fields. Mom hasn’t come home yet. But when she does. When she does.




Ryan Mattern is an M.A. student in the Creative Writing Program at UC Davis. He is the recipient of the Felix Valdez Award for short fiction. His work has appeared in Badlands, The Red Wheelbarrow, Criminal Class Review, THE2NDHAND, and Poetry Quarterly, among others. He is a member of poetrIE, a reading series dedicated to showcasing the literary voices of California's Inland Empire. He lives and writes in Northern California.