Benjamin Selesnick

Angels of Mist and Salt

Shane’s father, Patrice—or Pat, rather—ran up and down the Charles River on the Boston side four days during the workweek and once on the weekends, typically Sunday mornings when everyone was home. He went two miles down the river and two miles back, stopping for water or a sight.

And yet, Shane thought Patrice was dying.

The day this thought crossed his mind, he sat at the dinner table, observing his mother, Janet—or Jan, rather—roast pork chops as Pat leaned against the countertop while twisting a rolled-up edition of the Boston Herald in both hands as if giving it a snakebite. Pat’s forehead were creased, unmoving—his lips were puckered, chapped and bleeding, and the tip of his nose was red.

Later that evening, Shane asked Jan, “What happened to dad?”

Jan wore a flowing dress that concealed a terribly frail body. Standing in the doorframe of their back entrance that led into alleyway 847, she was praying silently to an angel made of mist and salt.

“Nothing’s happened to your father.”

Shane stepped outside—an activity that was frowned upon so late in the evening—and walked to the community garden at the corner. He picked a tulip—long at the peak of its season—and brought it home. He laid it on the dining room table.

He went into his room and forced himself to sleep, trying to reach a place where no one else existed.


Benjamin Selesnick is a student at Northeastern University and an intern at
A Public Space. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Bitter Oleander, Literary Orphans, The Cantibrigian, and others. In 2017, he was the runner-up for the Stony Brook Short Fiction Prize. Find him on twitter at @BnjmnSlsnck.