The girl sat cross-legged on a wooden bench, sandaled foot swaying in sync to the blare of horns, squeal of brakes, blurt of noxious exhaust. It was an unremarkable Sunday afternoon. A calico cat crept to a crumpled bag, pawed it, sniffed it, leapt onto the girl’s lap. Whisked its calligraphic tail and sulked away. A boy with bangs straight as a slalom slope stood on one leg across the road, eyes bright like the morning sun, crooning an impromptu ditty. A palm branch was balanced atop his head. The girl snatched her parasol and sashayed across the street. Bystanders eyed wristwatches, scrolled phones, muttered to themselves. Where have all the birds gone? asked the boy. Apples on a placard, said the girl. They giggled, interlaced their fingers, and the entire earth quaked.
John Langenfeld entered the Texas prison system at the age of twenty-one and served fifteen consecutive years. While incarcerated he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Sam Houston State University and a master’s degree in literature from University of Houston at Clear Lake. John is a lifetime member of Sigma Tau Delta – International English Honor Society. He has been published in Entropy, The Threepenny Review and was a finalist for the Frank McCourt Memoir Prize 2017.