Apprentice (from Farm Town)

After the colossal loss, I strayed solo, taking stabs at fun. I slashed down idiot water park slides and wandered malls filled with carousels and lingerie and pretzels. I stood where I could stand, in spaces with decorative pillars, in places that propped my body up like a doll or a taxidermied lady. I became history, grew dust petals. I waited for who-knows-what at the retaining wall in the kind end of the park, the bathroom stall at work, the bank line, the security checkpoint at City Hall. Unable to swallow home, I found myself in a hotel with the perfunctory city sounds of busses sighing curbside and couples confiding over room service portions. I watched celebrity dance competitions on department store flat screens and applied cosmetic counter samples to the thins of my eyelids when sleep fled. Luxury, commerce: assurances that the world goes on and on. I blinked and our city shrunk, so I ducked past suburbs, caught my breath mid-pasture, kept running. At the edge I encountered an oblivion drop-off, blackness heavier than death. I crossed the chasm and found the farm. Diagnosis: there’s an end to us and it’s flat.

This story originally appeared in issue 5.2. Order your copy today.

Ashley Farmer writes and teaches in Long Beach, CA. Her first collection of stories is forthcoming from Tiny Hardcore Press. You can visit her at