And it was still hot. The air conditioner dripped from what must have been a window over the alley. Humidity poured in through the front window, the one she broke by throwing a book at the tree roach climbing up the slats of the blinds. Pissed off at the roach and the heat, she had forgotten that glass lay behind the blinds, yet the landlord seemed never to have noticed despite his office window facing hers. The landlord continued to brag about his son at Harvard and even though he was nice enough, she wanted to spit. Fuck the window.
And fuck the frat rat that broke in last night, tried to rape her. She was startled awake by a dark shape in the doorway to the kitchen, blocking that exit, one step and the stranger could block her way to the front door too. Thank God he was so drunk he passed out on top of her. Then she knew who he was. She pushed him off her, but he was too heavy for her to get him out of her apartment. And thank God for Milt and Charlie. As soon as she called, they came, hustled him out, down the stairs, put him in his car, told him to get the hell out and never come back. They stayed with her until she calmed down.
She moved her mattress to below the broken window, closer to the door. She could hear the rustling of the live oak, the continuous sounds of crickets, the cats in the alley, the footsteps of neighbors on the stairs. Just that day she heard the frat rat had been picked up dead drunk and driving 160 miles per on the Katy Freeway, and he blamed her. Now that was funny. Yes, she thought, yes.
Martha Jackson Kaplan is an award-winning poet. She is a recipient of the Zylpha Mapp Robinson International Poetry Award, two Editor-in-Chief Awards from Möbius the Poetry Magazine. She won both a first and a third place in the Poets’ Choice Contest from the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, and is a Pushcart nominee. Although primarily a poet, she also publishes flash fiction. She holds degrees in sociology and art history from the University of Houston and has studied as a post grad in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; she also holds an M.Ed. from Loyola of Chicago, and credentials in Special Ed and English from Edgewood College. She was raised in Seattle, has lived in both Houston and Chicago, and now lives in Madison, Wisconsin. Publications can be found in Bending Genres, Cirque: A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim, Hummingbird, The Night Heron Barks, Unlikely Stories, including the 20th Anniversary Issue, Verse Wisconsin, Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar, in Nixes Mate Review, and in Bending Genres Journal. Additionally, she has been published in numerous anthologies including 56 Days of August, An Anthology of Postcards; Driftfish: A Zoomorphic Anthology, and Hospital Drive Anthology, University of Virginia. More about her can be found at marthakaplanpoet.com.