Story: The Next Stop

Poet and activist Gary Snyder described Olivia Boler’s first novel Year of the Smoke Girl (Dry Bones Press, 2000) as a “dense weave in the cross-cultural multi-racial world of complex, educated, hip, contemporary coast-to-coast America… It is a fine first novel, rich in paradox and detail.” A freelance writer who majored in English at MHC (and minored in Biology), Boler received her master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis, and has published short stories in the Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA) anthology Cheers to Muses, the literary journal MARY, and FacetsMagazine, among others.  She lives in her native San Francisco with her family.

It starts, a dropping stab of jagged glass in her belly. No, Amy thinks, it’s lower, near her bladder. She grabs for the armrest but Carlton is covering it with his elbow as he reads the newspaper. She nudges his arm away and squeezes, eyes closing as the cramp rides over her, crunching its way up her abdomen, into her ribs. Her body is hot all over, and she tears off her sweatshirt, catching some strands of her long black hair under her nails. Outside the train, the interstate and countryside flash by in a high-speed chase.

“What’s wrong?” Carlton asks.

“I don’t know.” She is perspiring a little, and she feels his hand on her forehead.

“Don’t tell me it was the chili.”

She opens her eyes and laughs but it’s more of an idea. “Never.” Continue reading