Short Stories

Infinite Dreams
by Nicole D. Sconiers
(Originally published in neon V magazine)

DreamsIf I were strong enough, I wouldn’t need to drink it.

Every other day, I take a book to the soothie bar around the corner from my apartment and sit at a table away from the window, listening to the drone of the blender as it grinds frozen melons and mangoes into a sedate puree. I scan the pages, my ears perking up whenever someone leans in to place an order. Will they go through with it? But the orders never deviate.

“Medium Mango Moodslayer, please.”

“Large Melon Self-Love to go. No ice.”

Then the blenders start up again, whirring blades of sameness, and I return to my novel or Bible or whatever book I happened to pick up on my way out of the apartment. I never finish my drink. As I leave the shop, it takes a minute for my eyes to focus, and I reach for the red banister outside the door to steady myself. I toss my cup into a dumpster in the alleyway. Bums descend on it. I quicken my pace, rushing away from the sound of anxious sucking.

There is a soothie bar on every corner in North Hollywood. Nine years ago, when I first moved to this wasteland for would-be actors, writers and comedians, people were less inclined to drink pureed fruit in a cup, especially at $10 to $12 a shot. But since the dereg of ’22, my neighbors are more than willing to pay $50 to $55 for their daily soothie. It’s sweeter this way, filling and there is no aftertaste.

Download a PDF of the complete story.

Lady in a Cage
by Nicole D. Sconiers
(Originally published in Inglewoodlandia)

On the corner of La Brea and Heliotrope, just south of La Tijera Boulevard, sits a lady in a cage. My friend Niecy noticed her a few days ago while driving to church.

“What does she look like?” I asked when Niecy dropped by my apartment that afternoon. She still had on her Sunday best, a white blouse and black skirt.

“Big. Her head almost touched the top of the cage and her hair was matted,” Niecy giggled, brushing wispy strands from her brow. “The kind of hair my momma calls ‘can’tcha-don’tcha’ – can’tcha comb it and don’tcha try.”

We were drinking peppermint tea at my dining room table. Niecy’s purse lay on one side of the placemat, her Bible on the other. Her face had that after-service sheen, a mixture of sweat, tears and hope that always faded by Monday morning.

I fingered the swirls on my teacup, thinking about the caged lady. If Niecy saw her on the way to church, it must have been around 6:30. Even though it’s late May, Los Angeles mornings are chilly at that hour.

“What was she wearing?” I asked.

“A purple body suit.” She sipped her tea. Slurped, actually, and I was tempted to say that slurping isn’t ladylike, but I wanted her to finish her tale. “She was real confident to be so big.”

I’m a big girl, and all I wear are loose-fitting clothes. L.A. has a way of making you hate your own skin. I wanted to know why the lady was so bold, but it seemed weird to go way down to the Wood to gawk at her. Living in The Valley, I didn’t get over to Inglewood that much, only making the 45-minute trek to buy synthetic hair for my braids or when I craved a good fish sandwich. I shrugged, putting the stranger out of my mind.

Download a PDF of the complete story.

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