I’ve had the pleasure of working with Editor Matt Potter at PureSlush, an Australian publisher intent on celebrating the whole human lifespan in several volumes. Each of the twelve planned volumes will feature stories from a specific phase of life.
My piece entitled Fire Extinguisher appears in Volume 2. It’s a fictional account of a Maine farm boy and his restricted upbringing.
Here’s the beginning of Fire Extinguisher:
Lying in bed, Relland recited New Testament verses over and over. Passages about sin and burning. At the age of fifteen, he felt scorched, ready to ignite, as if his entire body were a page of the Bangor Daily News held too close to the woodstove.
“No relations before marriage,” repeated Pastor Martin, both from the pulpit, and every week during Youth Group meetings. “Avoid even kissing until you are engaged.”
Relland was constantly being reminded of the sins of the flesh. Either the sins themselves, or just the nature of flesh. All the animals on the family farm seemed to spend their time rooting and licking and humping and thumping. Cows were inseminated. Sows and boars made piglets. Dogs fused together in the oddest places: next to the woodpile or behind the glider on the porch. The wettest, pinkest, fleshiest parts of all the beasts were on constant display, teasing the growing boy with examples of raw, sensual energy.
Relland felt weighed down by a heat that began in his throat and singed his groin like a red-hot poker.
(I hope you’re curious about what happens to poor, frustrated Relland….
The rights to the story have reverted to me, but the publisher has asked that writers wait a “courteous three months” from publication before re-printing. PureSlush folks have been a pleasure to work with careful editors and prompt communication. The least I can do is honor their request.