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Explaining Our Presence

by Eric Beeny

We snuck out before the sun came up.


We lived next door to each other, met with our bicycles in my backyard.

We got on our bicycles and rode all the way down Niagara Street toward the drawbridge to Bird Island. 

We crossed the drawbridge and rode down the break wall extending out along the Niagara River toward the Peace Bridge.

We rode under the Peace Bridge and, when we got all the way under it, we saw two people lying on the rocks behind the pier, moving slightly. 

It was still dark, but we could tell it was a girl doing something on top of a boy.

They heard us and stopped, tried to blend in with the rocks.

We were young, thought all sex was pretend, so we giggled big.

When we got home our moms asked us where we were.

Over and over, my mom asked me where I came from.

Author's Note

I usually avoid writing stories or poems about myself, either because I don’t remember much of my childhood and/or adolescence and/or young adulthood and/or this morning, or because it’s easier to put pretend people in situations which make sense to them, though they can’t concretely explain why, and so can’t interpret the situation's meaning—as meaning could, theoretically, exist. The stories I write rainbow toward magical realism, which I think I most appreciate in literature, but sometimes an idea I have is based on a fragment of memory, a feeling or event which once was tangible or palpable, and, as an experience in real life, it maybe feels too pure to not document as having happened to me, whoever I am according to what I perceive as my life. I feel I should occasionally remind myself that I’m actively participating in that life, in what it does or doesn’t mean, in what experiences have or are shaping an identity I’m constantly coming to terms with, and how all of it could potentially be preserved through writing—and the only reason to preserve it would be to assume it has meaning, and, if not, attribute meaning to it. Or, it could be, all fiction is potentially autobiographical, as thinking, thought itself, is experience. This story is what I remember thinking while the story happened to me, and also what I thought while writing it, two simultaneous events which occurred years apart from one another.

Eric Beeny’s poems and stories have appeared in 3:AM, Abjective, Corduroy Mtn., Dogzplot, elimae, Quercus Review, Thieves Jargon, Willows Wept Review, Word Riot, and many others. His small novel, The Dying Bloom, was published as an e-book by Pangur Ban Party. He’s a contributing editor for Gold Wake Press. His blog is Dead End on Progressive Ave.

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