Don’t Smoke in Bed

by | Jan 9, 2021 | January 2021 Writing | 7 comments

Dawn came with a shattered porcelain boot. I blame the fire engine’s sirens across the street. Boots should be rubber like a hose. The shelves made from weathered oars held a dusty mirror. I pulled the oar from the wall, as easy as an icepick through cheap canvas, poked through the windowpane, cleared the shards from the frame. Seven years, eh. 

I tossed the baby. The net well held. An easy target. Got the tot to grip the oar and I lowered her into reaching arms. Had to wipe a flash of my first speaker jump into some mad mosh pit back in Halifax, Nova Scotia when I felt invincible and my buds and I had invented crowd surfing ourselves. 

Had to figure how to get the wife down, her mouth was moving with words but I was listening to the fridge melt. A peeling floorboard, laminated—I guess, sounds like microwave popcorn. With the help of a bread knife, I knotted the sofa quilt to our queen-sized upper sheet and told my love to hold on like hell. We believed our third in the oven. 

My last expectation was the floor to go and when it did so did I. The fall went all slow-motion, the impact the opposite. The ambulance radio played Nirvana.

7 Comments

  1. Corey Holzman

    I love the line “listening to the fridge melt” it actually made me laugh for whatever reason.
    There is a frantic energy to this that really gives it a ton of energy, and then very specific moments that ground it out. It was a really interesting dichotomy. Thanks!

  2. Jonathan Cardew

    Love this, David! These are my fave two lines:

    ” Had to wipe a flash of my first speaker jump into some mad mosh pit back in Halifax, Nova Scotia when I felt invincible and my buds and I had invented crowd surfing ourselves. ”

    “A peeling floorboard, laminated—I guess, sounds like microwave popcorn.”

    I really enjoyed the easy flow to the conclusion–slow motion and nirvana!

    The only part that made me stumble just a little was the line “seven years, eh”–felt like it took me out of the piece. But that’s just a minor thing.

    Thanks for sharing!

    –Jonathan

  3. Meg Tuite

    David! Holy shite! First of all, the title works long hours and never once was it written again of what’s happening! LOVE THIS!!
    So many great lines! First line, kickass.
    “I pulled the oar from the wall, as easy as an icepick through cheap canvas,”
    “Had to wipe a flash of my first speaker jump into some mad mosh pit back in Halifax, Nova Scotia when I felt invincible and my buds and I had invented crowd surfing ourselves. ”
    “her mouth was moving with words but I was listening to the fridge melt.”
    “A peeling floorboard, laminated—I guess, sounds like microwave popcorn.”
    And the ending with sound again! so brilliant!
    So visceral with the sound only and vision painting this picture!
    And that’s how a fire would be!
    You have another beauty here that moves with the ease of a fire!
    LOVE IT AND LOVE IT ALOUD! So great! Outstanding! Send it out!
    Will send a list of places to consider.

  4. Constance Malloy

    David, I was immediately struck by the title and how I already knew this was going to be bad. And, bravo that you resist the temptation to tell us anymore about how we arrived here. The title is all we need. Others have mentioned lines I like as well, but I love the dichotomy in this one “The fall went all slow-motion, the impact the opposite.” This is a tight read. Good luck if you decide to submit. Thanks.

  5. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    David, Writing great! Love the telescoping details. It took a short minute for me to figure out the fire, but terrific from there on out. Love the working in of the mosh pit, the reference to seven years’ bad luck with the mirror, the wife’s mouth moving but unheard against the fridge melting. Most favorite of all, the line: “My last expectation was the floor to go and when it did so did I. The fall went all slow-motion, the impact the opposite.” You could even end it there. The only bit that I stumbled over was “We believed our third in the oven.’ What did I miss here? third what? But that injures the work not at all. Great. Send out.

  6. Sara Comito

    Hey David, the title put me in mind of one of my favorite Nina Simone tunes. The precipitous action is breathtaking. Yikes at tossing the baby! But a man’s got to do what a man’s go to … There might be a bit of a Nova Scotia lilt that required a second read, chiefly because I didn’t know at first whether “net well” was a feature of a fire escape or even a house boat. I love the notion of the buds claiming authorship over crowd surfing! And what a way to demarcate then versus the emergency now of family life. I have to wonder if there isn’t a little in Nina’s song echoing here, a hint at farewell? Intriguing beyond the small space that the words take up!

  7. John Steines

    Hi David. This is great. You seem to have an excellent ability to create a narrator who remains strangely distanced from the action. In this situation it’s almost comical despite the happenings. Even ‘I tossed the baby’ reads funny from that framework, and ending with Nirvana on the radio so compliments you tone. Cheers.

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