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Terese Svoboda


Heart-Shaped Candle Romance

Darling, he says. I love your little wick. He feels up her opaque heart—itís beating fast. If lit her heat would be just enough to snap his FBI airlock tight and sigh and smoke. But exciting titles scroll over her as she hides her wick-ed self in the closet, as she casts her meaningful glance: beware louvered doors. He looks and looks and finds—a bunch of birds between his loins. Explosion. Then heís running, electrons flashing, a knife between his teeth. Cut to at-home Italians. Make that Sicilians, make that with killer anchovies. Nobody speaks da English, nobodyís gonna turn her in. They donít care if he is the Pope. Does he want an extra slice with that knife? He flees to his console for consolation, he iPuds and Wiis up the wazoo, he Sims and Half-lifes, he canít get anything going in the fancy computer effects department. Then the heart-shaped candle saunters her waxed self past his screen and itís the chaste scene: she twitches her mouth, so European. Fetch this, she says and Iíll melt. Soon he hangs from a clockhand—but the clock is digital. Bitch he says. Meanwhile she finds old sticks and rubs them slowly, oh so slowly, until a spark appears and thrillions of pixels burn, burn with misunderstanding, the crowds between them in their clean costumes soon dirtied by more explosions and car crashes. Lots of blue light where he lands in an empty warehouse full of smoke, where he hammers and hammers to find a way out. So many other heart-shaped candles—Italian? Sicilian?órush in under the exit sign he canít find, so many he canít read their meaningful lips. Whose arms to run into, which one has the gun? Helicopters, machineguns, a broken bridge dangling over a roaring cataract, an airplane embarrassed by its winglessness. Then he spots her, puddled in the driveway of his own loins. Violins. He presses his face into her warm wax and FBIís her heart-shaped self at last, he burns.




Terese Svoboda is the author of five volumes of poetry and four novels, including Tin God (Nebraska 2006); a collection of short stories, Trailer Girl and Other Stories (available in a Bison Books edition); and a nonfiction book, Black Glasses like Clark Kent: A GIís Secret from Postwar Japan, winner of the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, and translations from the Nuer, Cleaned The Crocodile's Teeth. Her latest novel is Bohemian Girl.

Terese Svoboda's fiction also appeared in issue 8 of Mad Hatters' Review.

Terese is the featured reader for the Carol Novak Tribute Reading during Asheville Wordfest 2012 (May 5). Contact author.

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