“There are words we’ll never speak,” Petr’s father had said, with a significant glance at Jacob, across the room. “And maybe it’s best that way.”

Papa was buried today.

Mother is in the company of her sisters tonight: three widows with a childhood in common.

It has rained all day and Petr has walked home with Jacob.

A blister puckers the outer edge of his left big toe. His nails are trimmed. The streets are all cobblestones and his socks are drying out on the radiator: limp and with nothing inside.

In Jacob’s arms, there’s no need to say anything.




J.C. Howell is a fiction writer living in the Chicago area with a few short works published in small-press local anthologies. He has taught English as a Second Language in the Czech Republic and much of his current work draws inspiration from Central- and East-European literary traditions and history.