Past and Present Tenses, fiction by Misty Skaggs

The teal-green Ever­last half shirt rode up right below his rib cage to reveal a dim­ple of bel­ly but­ton that the boys I knew, had always known, would’ve been embar­rassed to show. That naked navel made my heart race when I watched him dan­gle upside down on the mon­key bars. When he sat down in the desk in front of me after recess, with a thin slick of sweat drip­ping down beyond that frayed and stained col­lar, my mind wan­dered far away from Ken­tucky His­to­ry. I didn’t give a damn about Daniel Boone. My mind was busy pio­neer­ing a land of bud­ding hor­mones and forg­ing hap­py trails; a glo­ri­ous and unknown expanse of young skin on skin. And almost teenage tongues touch­ing tongues.

He worked his way through the pop­u­lar girls, one intense two-week rela­tion­ship at a time. I pined away from afar, from my top secret perch in the low­er limbs of a giant oak tree where I’d read my way through recess.

We take good care of each oth­er around here, huh?” he mum­bles in a sweet, soft voice in the present.

And then the grown up ver­sion of my ele­men­tary school crush sur­ren­ders to his self-inflict­ed chem­i­cal haze with a sigh.

I sit with him and I watch him breathe, cau­tious. Half wait­ing for the over­dose, for the puk­ing and the dying on my new, leather couch. His green eyes open long enough to show me the past. He smiles crooked and we’re in fifth grade again, stand­ing in the lunch line. His ice cold index fin­ger slides behind my thick glass­es, break­ing a nerdy, fat girl force field to retrieve a way­ward eyelash.

Make a wish” he said long ago “and make it good!”

And he wait­ed for me to close my eyes. And exhale. And change our world.


Misty Skag­gs, 29, cur­rent­ly resides on her Mamaw’s couch way out at the end of Bear Town Ridge Road where she is slow­ly amass­ing a library of con­tem­po­rary fic­tion under the cof­fee table and per­fect­ing her but­ter­milk bis­cuits. Her gravy, how­ev­er, still tastes like wall­pa­per paste. She is cur­rent­ly tak­ing the scenic route through high­er edu­ca­tion at More­head State Uni­ver­si­ty and hopes to com­plete her BFA in Cre­ative Writing…eventually. Misty won the Judy Rogers Award for Fic­tion with her sto­ry “Ham­burg­ers" and has had both poet­ry and prose pub­lished in Lime­stone and Inscape lit­er­ary jour­nals. Her short series of poems enti­tled “Hill­bil­ly Haiku" will also be fea­tured in the upcom­ing edi­tion of New Madrid. She will be read­ing from her chap­book, Pre­scrip­tion Panes, at the Appalachi­an Stud­ies Con­fer­ence in Indi­ana, Penn­syl­va­nia in March. When she isn’t writ­ing, Misty enjoys tak­ing long, woodsy walks with her three cats and watch­ing Dirty Har­ry with her nine­ty six year old great grandmother.

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One Response to Past and Present Tenses, fiction by Misty Skaggs

  1. I've been enjoy­ing Misty's work here at FC&C. Keep them coming.

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