“The Hole” – Fiction by Samantha Eliot Stier

Seagull - Ben Kerckx, 2014
Seagull – Ben Kerckx, 2014

Book nerds have written thousands of words musing upon the significance of the dead seagull in Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull.” We’re not sure if the dead seagull in Samantha Eliot Stier‘s “The Hole” (from our Fall 2014 issue) is also supposed to represent a dichotomy between old and new art, or something like that– but we do know that we never get tired of reading this delightfully daft story.

{ X }

WE MEET IN A HOLE IN THE SAND. There’s also a dead seagull in the hole, but it’s a big enough hole that we don’t step on it.

He had seen some kids digging the hole earlier, he says, so it was silly of him to fall right into it. He was jogging, he says, staring at the sun as it sprinkled his eyes with little flash-pops. When he looked forward again, he couldn’t see where he was going. That was how he’d fallen into the hole.

He says he twisted his ankle but it will probably be fine. He reaches for my hand, but first I want to bury the seagull. I pull sand with my fingers until the seagull is covered. You can still see one of his feathers sort of sticking up through the sand, but I leave it like that, a grave marker.

What if someone else falls in the hole? I ask.

He shrugs. I say we should probably fill the hole.

But that would take too long, he says. Instead, we gather seaweed and circle the hole, so people will see it. The tide’s coming in, he says.

He hobbles along next to me, asks where I’m going. If I’m not too busy, he says, would I be willing to help him distribute his CDs? He’s a musician, and his musician name is Lion. He leaves his CDs under people’s windshield wipers and in their mailboxes. He says people love his music so much they give his CD to their friends and family. He has Fans, he says. Lots of them.

They had told me to be more careful, and I know they would be mad if I went with this man, but I will tell them he had kind eyes, that he helped me bury the seagull.

We go to a house that’s not his, he’s very clear about this. It’s a friend’s house, so I shouldn’t touch anything. The friend has a liquor cabinet, and a bottle of rum with a monkey on the label. I pour us each a glass full. That’s too much, he says, looking annoyed. But he takes it anyway.

He instructs me on how to stick his CDs into brown paper envelopes. His logo is a lion. Lion himself is pale and hairless.

He puts on his CD, says he wants me to listen to it. There are only four songs, and once it’s over, he plays it again. His voice is soft and drizzly, a little too high-pitched, the guitar just a tad too bare. As he listens to himself, he closes his eyes, nodding the way I’ve seen people do in church or after they’ve done something wrong.

You’re going too slow, he says, eyes open now, watching as I slip a CD into its lion sleeve.

I try to go faster, but the sleeves are difficult to peel open. He packs them in shoeboxes, and stacks those by the door. I finish my pile, gulp down my rum and crawl closer to him. Grains of sand stick to his legs and I want to sweep them off. We’re almost done, he says.

It’s dark now, and the CD has finally stopped playing. The room is filled with a low hum. Above me, the ceiling moves in slow circles around the fan.

Can you get up? I hear him say. Come on, we have to get these out there for the world to hear. Don’t you want the world to hear my voice?

They would be mad if they knew where I am, what I’m doing. Remember what happened last time? They’d say. Haven’t you learned your lesson?

The lion man ignores my sprawled body and carries another shoebox to the door. Come on, he says again. Let’s go.

Out into the night, I trek bravely with my stack of lion sleeves. I snap them into place beneath windshield wipers. In the morning, people will get into their cars and see the lion staring at them. Surprised—maybe a little irritated—they’ll yank it out and toss it into the passenger seat. Maybe later, when they can’t find anything on the radio, they’ll glance curiously at the CD. Maybe they’ll stick it into the player. Maybe they’ll fall in love with the lion man’s high-pitched voice.

When he finds me again, he criticizes me for not distributing my whole stack. I promise to do better. He takes off, bounding toward a parking lot, his limp gone. I take my stack and go back to the friend’s house. I grab the bottle of monkey rum. Arms full, I walk back to the sand, to the circle of seaweed that marks the hole.

Inside the hole, I sit with the monkey and the lion, and the dead seagull, too, in there somewhere. I know they’re worried about me now. I know they wonder where I am, why I haven’t come home. I know they’ll think I’ve done it again. They’ll get better locks, and it will be a long time before I can go out again.

Soon I’ll climb out of this hole and bury the rum and the lion sleeves and the seagull’s feather. But for now, I sit and drink, waiting for it to fill.

{ X }


SAMANTHA ELIOT STIER ‘s short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Faircloth Review, Black Heart Magazine,Infective Ink Magazine, Spry Literary Journal,Citizen Brooklyn, Blank Fiction Magazine,Drunk Monkeys, Mojave River Press & Review, The Writing Disorder, and Gemini Magazine. She won an honorable mention in the 2013 Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Contest, and a selection of her stories was featured as part of the 2014 New Short Fiction Series, L.A.’s longest-running spoken-word series. Samantha holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles and lives in Venice Beach, California. Visit her atSamanthaStier.com.

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