Close Reading


September 14, 2012 by The Citron Review

by Al Bray 


Every morning, if he watches with one eye over the upper edge of the book, a girl appears, crossing the yard in front of his window from right to left. It’s almost always between ten-thirty and eleven. He imagines she lives somewhere in the house next door—probably on a higher floor. His own apartment is in the basement, half-in and half-out of the ground, and he must look up to see her pass. She walks bare-foot, sure-foot over the cropped lawn, and below the long hem of a man’s button-down shirt, her thighs are also bare.

Her passage is quick; he freezes when it happens, not out of fear of being seen, but of losing an instant of her in the transition, as if some geometry of their positions would be thrown off if he set down the book or leaned forward; a vector which would leave him short. A smile is often on her face, and he imagines she’s shy. She carries a cup of steaming coffee, holding it by the handle because it’s very hot, and he’s sure she’s carrying it to a lover about to wake.

He gets up a whole hour earlier and showers and shaves, dressing in worn jeans and a green T-shirt with a Rolling Rock beer logo—dressing for her, no belt, no shoes. It’s a balmy summer morning; the garbage truck makes its rounds, upending dumpsters with a gasoline roar. Birds are singing.


Al Bray lives in northern New England with his family. He started writing fiction fifteen years ago after working as a clinical social worker and musician in the Midwest. His stories have appeared in TQR Stories and Gone Lawn Journal.

3 thoughts on “Close Reading

  1. […] a writer, with two new stories published this month. The Replica City , published on Per Contra and Close Reading published on The Citron Review are each satisfying pieces of short fiction that take you to new […]

  2. […] way with words and an astounding ability to create whole worlds on paper. When I read one of his stories, I am raised to another plane, given the chance to look at the world in a new way. When I am at a […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Snow on brush in desert

IMAGE CREDIT: Jill Katherine Chmelko. Protest Road, Winter. 2019.

🍋Our Tenth Anniversary


    Cheers to ten years of celebrating the short form.


🍋 Instagram

Winter will soon come to a close and everyone's crying! We trust Paul Beckman to reveal a trail through it all. Paul Beckman’s fourth short story collection is Kiss Kiss (Truth Serum Press), was a finalist for the 2019 Short Story Indie Book Awards. He was one of the winners of @bestsmallfictions 2016. He won the Editor’s Choice Award in 2016 from Fiction Southeast, and was in the #WigleafTop50. His stories have appeared in @jellyfishreviewig, @spelkfiction, @litromedia, @pankmagazine, Lost Balloon and many others. Paul curates the FBomb NY flash fiction reading series monthly at KGB Bar & @kgblitjournal. #amreading #flashfiction
Don't cry...or maybe do. A deeper look at our saltiest moments with Denton Loving's "The Topography of Tears." Denton Loving is the author of the poetry collection Crimes Against Birds and editor of Seeking Its Own Level, an Anthology of Writings about Water. His writing has recently appeared in @lunchwithironhorse, @kenyonreview, #ChattahoocheeReview and #TheThreepennyReview. #amreading #creativenonfiction
US President George Washington rode a horse, of course. So we are recognizing this President's birthday with our Winter Issue story, "The Farrier, by Lisa Tuininga. Lisa Tuininga writes fiction and creative nonfiction. She holds a BA in English Literature from DePaul University and has studied at Seattle’s literary center, @hugohouse. Her work has appeared in @belletristmagazine , Adanna Literary Journal, @sharkreeflit, and others (under pen name Lisa Regen) and she is working on her first novel. #amreading #amsubmitting
Whether you celebrate V-Day or you're anti-V-Day, we all have laundry to do. Kris Willcox's work is in publications including The Cimarron Review​, @beloitfictionjournal , and @PDXReview. #amreading #flashfiction #litmag
Dive deep into some #flashfiction with @elpattee. Emma Pattee’s writing has been published in @nytimes and @carvecommunity and is forthcoming in @marieclairemag. She was a 2019 AWP Writer-to-Writer mentee and leads the Portland chapter of Women Who Submit. She is currently working on a novel.
We review the debut Cathy Ulrich collection Ghosts of You (@okaydonkeymag) We're over the moon with ZEST. #amreading #flashfiction

Enter your email address to follow us and receive notifications of new issues by email.

%d bloggers like this: