Two Short Pieces by Nat Baldwin

Image by Caleb Caldwell / @calebacaldwell

The Shape of a Face

The father is down in the street. The porch light flickers. I sip liquid from a glass. I stare up at branches or into the light. See the father twitch. I look straight at the father as light hits his face. No scratches on his face. The street is not close. I lift the glass to my face. I kill the light on the porch and take a step toward him the father. I refill the glass. See the skin on his chest. There is less light in the street. I trip on a rake in the grass to the house. The father sits up. His face blurs. I tip the glass back and make my way up the steps. I flip on the porch light and refill my glass. The porch light is weak. A branch breaks from a tree. The father sits still. The outlines of a chest. The shape of a face. No other sounds. I touch the glass to my mouth and the glass becomes light. I rub the light on my face. I feel nothing. Another branch falls not far from the father. The father is still. I let the glass go.



Z’s Bones

When I was ten we broke into school me and Z. Z he was skinny and so his body it fit in small spaces. The school was our school but this was not a day for students this was not a day for teachers. I lifted the trap door on the flat roof and watched the town for people the sun bright and hot. From the roof I could see the whole town I could see the ocean I could see cars and graves and boats and trees. There were so many graves in the graveyard it was close enough to see cracks in the graves dead flowers in the grass there were more graves than people in sight. There were no people the day was Sunday on Sunday the people of town all assembled in a big building with a bell this building just beyond the graveyard. The bell made sounds sometimes and it happened to be making the sounds it sometimes made when I opened the door as far as it could open and Z squeezed his body through. When Z took off all his clothes I could see most of his bones he still struggled to fit all I could do was watch. My bones were covered with fat I could not fit in small spaces. It was pitch black below the door latched with a rope and the rope tied loose to a ladder. Who tied the rope seemed to not take into account a body like Z’s. When Z got down there to where the ladder led he would untie the rope so I could pull the door open I would climb down to join him we would be in the school. The bell on the building where the people assembled was still making its sounds I listened because there were no other sounds to hear. When the rope slacked I lifted the door with ease light broke in I could see how far the ladder led down I could see Z. I listened for his voice in the space between the strikes of the bell I shut my eyes leaned close.



Nat Baldwin is a writer and musician living in Maine. His fiction has appeared in PANK, Sleepingfish, Timber, Deluge, and Alice Blue. He has released several solo albums and plays bass in Dirty Projectors. He is currently pursuing a BA in English at the University of Southern Maine.