Gargoyle Magazine Issue #60

Integers and Atoms

Short fiction

The mysteries of Africa hold sway over Lucy, her host, Edie, and Edie’s guests, Patricia and Richard Hightower.

Gargoyle Magazine Issue #60, featuring "Integers and Atoms," short fiction by Jenni Wiltz

The dog lay on his side in front of the fireplace, legs extended and toes pointed. He twitched in his sleep, deep tectonic movements that jolted his entire body. He snored through them and drooled onto the rug.

Lucy envied him. The heat from the enormous stone fireplace threatened to dissolve the last shreds of her consciousness. She’d been moving for so long she’d forgotten what it felt like to sit still. Jet lag and the aftereffects of her typhoid vaccine had turned her eyelids into anvils.

“Patricia and Richard will be here soon,” Edie said, with an accent as feathered and faint as her lipstick. She handed Lucy a glass of whiskey and water. “This will help settle your stomach.”

The alcohol stomped on Lucy’s tongue like an angry tap dancer. She swallowed the beat, hoping those pissed-off feet would kick some sense into her. She was in Africa. She had a job to do. She could not journey to one of the farthest corners of the globe and greet it by falling asleep on the floor like a dog. “Thank you,” she said.

A flash of headlights shone through the front window. Lucy turned her head away, watching the light streak across the framed artwork on the wall. Cut silhouettes of fleshy faces and shoulders, colored pencil sketches of flowers, maps of the Njoro River basin, photos of big game hunters on safari—Lucy’s eyes glossed over them as she translated the meaning behind the lights. A car in the driveway. Cars carried people. The dinner guests had arrived.

Appeared in: Gargoyle
Published in: 2013

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