Gone Lawn
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Gone Lawn 48
spring equinox, 2023

Featured artwork, Elephant 1, by Neila Mezynski

New Works

Mary DeCarlo

The Internet's Predicting the End Times Again

They're calling for fires, floods, gale force winds and five inch hail, but the dinner parties mustn't stop.

I've better things to do than shop for gruyere, but the RSVPs have already started rolling in. I hang missing posters on the telephone poles outside the shops. My dog had been reacting to the changes in climate, wheezing and whining, the cone over his mouth necessary for his health but annoying to no end. He would shimmy, bite, attempt to loosen it at any cost. I wanted to tell him the cone was only temporary. It was coming off. And soon. In time, all would be okay again. But he couldn't understand me. Now I know how God feels looking down on us. My dog ran away before the veterinarian could remove it. He'll return when he's hungry.

The panther arrives to my dinner party in a lime green 2004 Betsy Johnson dress. "You look as bad as your breath," she says taking a Polaroid of my reaction. A severed cuticle floating on her lip. "One for the scrapbook." She talks of commodifying grief in a despair-driven marketplace while coughing fur into her martini glass. In the low rumble of her stomach, I hear a bell. The other guests are enraptured, but I'm stuck on her suggestion I trademark a feeling — one I've never felt, but soon will. She wants me to think of my future, lest I end up with no skills in the new world. I tell my guests to think positively, the predictors are all doomers, the right attitude is half the battle. While gathering the coats, I catch her etching Xs over the eyes of the portrait of my lost dog.

In dreams I become a nutcracker. She closes my mouth.

At dawn, I discover a gift wrapped in gleaming silver paper and an envelope stamped with the panther's paw. I fetch my letter opener and slice it cleanly, revealing a patent application. I open the package carefully, hoping to reuse the paper — every bit helps, and find the well-worn dog collar belonging to my beloved. Over coffee, I dry my eyes with my patent application, journaling my way to gratitude for each new opportunity life offers. I take my morning walk, gripping the empty leash out of habit. My mind shifts to the future — there's another dinner party next Friday and I'm bringing the canapés.

Mary DeCarlo is a writer living in Brooklyn with her partner and cat, Levon (Helm.) Her work has been chosen for Best Small Fictions. Her work has been seen in HAD, Rejection letters, Capsule Stories, Variety Pack and is forthcoming from Identity Theory. Her playwriting can be found on the New Play Exchange. For more, her website is marydecarlo.com or you can find her lurking on twitter @merrymarymare.