Unposed, Mountain Backdrop

by Tim Horvath

The jagged, icy rim looms over the plain gridded streets of Anchorage as my daughter swings in a steady rhythm, my hand sleeping on the job as it propels her mindlessly back and forth. Except the mind snaps alert as I study the five kids playing hoops, two-on-three, and suddenly I’m thinking about what’s it’s like to live here, more, to be from here, this odd crossroads of vertical and horizontal, grandeur and mundanity, Nietzsche strutting into a saloon (will he order imported or Milwaukee’s finest?). These five have the look that says they’ve grown up maybe within walking distance, definitely haven’t set foot outside of Alaska , maybe haven’t been out of city limits. The game slips into taunting and shoving, and one of them, darker and taller and older than the others, moves like a storm in the direction of our swing, his long black hair trailing behind him. Up close, sangria-red paisley leap off his button-down shirt like spawning salmon, and I catch the quaver in his lip; well, maybe they’ve called him a girl, maybe made fun of the shirt, too gorgeous on a boy, maybe said something about his mom, and maybe it was part-true; anyway, they know what gets to him. Slumping into the base of a slide, he continues to age before me, and when I ask if he’s okay, shakes his head, and only my daughter and I are in earshot when he rises minutes later to declare “I’ve got anger issues," then returns to slap hands on the ball they left, the only visible thing he carries away.


Tim Horvath is a New Hampshire-based writer with stories published in Carve, Eclectica, Sleepingfish, and elsewhere. His story "The Understory" won the 2006 Raymond Carver Prize, judged by Bill Henderson. His novella "Circulation" will be released as a short book by Sunnyoutside Press toward the end of this year. You can learn more at his website.