The Romantic Maneuvers of a Tilting Planet

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June 22, 2022 by The Citron Review

by Tommy Dean


Before the car was repossessed, before the house was sold at auction, before our father lost his job, and before our mother started living in the hotel 6 that she cleaned twelve hours a day, six days a week, before the youngest of us was born, before the emergency room visits, before the diagnosed panic attacks, before 9/11, before smoke and jet fuel became molten heat, before the war, yes that war, with it’s victimized civilians, and their voices curdled by the accumulating smoke and dust, before the second of us was born, our parents met at an art museum, both of them drawn to the light and loneliness of that Hopper painting. Their hands meeting like leaves falling onto the same patch of ground, their ends curling toward each other. Strangers kissing like newlyweds, a photo that hangs in our parents bedroom, gathering dust, knocked askew by our play fighting. The times that always lead to bloody noses and bruised eyebrows. The only time we can get our father to sit with us, his hands wrapped around an ice pack, his other arm around our shoulders, the smell of melted metal and grease, a smokiness we inhale and hold in our chests, promising him that our mother will return. That before is just a dot on the timeline of their love. 


Tommy Dean is the author of two flash fiction chapbooks Special Like the People on TV (Redbird Chapbooks, 2014) and Covenants (ELJ Editions, 2021). Hollows was published by Alternating Current Press. He lives in Indiana where he currently is the Editor at Fractured Lit and Uncharted Magazine. A recipient of the 2019 Lascaux Prize in Short Fiction, his writing can be found in Monkeybicycle, and numerous litmags. Find him at and on Twitter @TommyDeanWriter.




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