by Joshua Beggs

It’s a quiet little place, my village. A couple of ponds, a lazy squiggle of a river, more fresh water and fish than we could ever need. Trees heavy with peaches, with pears, with apples that grow almost as big as your head. Squeezed between two sweeping cliffs, the ocean, the train tracks that brought us all here, one by one.

We live like a small town should, detached from the world outside, just doing our small-town things. Weeding our gardens and tending the orchards. Fishing and collecting shells from the beach. Throwing parties whenever it’s someone’s birthday and inviting the whole town, all twelve or thirteen of us. No visitors, aside from the drifter who appears now and then at the train station, asking for a single night’s lodging, an audience for him and his guitar. How he gets here, or how he leaves, nobody knows for sure.

But the best part of our village is the people. Peppy little Gabi and cranky old Boris. Ava and Hank, our token lovebirds. Tom, who runs a kind of general store with the help of his two boys. He gets on some people’s nerves, still caring about money when we’re in the situation we are, but I get it. I really do. We all need something to focus on, I think. For me, it’s keeping the village running, keeping fish and fruit on everyone’s table, keeping the peace whenever there’s a disagreement, but everyone has their own hobby. Catching butterflies or redecorating their homes. Stitching together clothes or collecting fossils. Watching the train as it rolls past, but never stops, no, never stops for us.

What none of us do, what none of us can afford to do, is think.

About who might be the next to disappear overnight, their entire house, just…gone, nothing but a patch of green grass and a letter in everyone’s mailbox, always the same handwriting, always the same story, that they’re moving to a different town, though they never mention where, or how.

About how we’re trapped, here, in the crossing, in this square of land between the beach and the cliffs and the tracks of the train that never lets anyone on, in someone’s sick idea of a game, and we can never stop playing.

About what’s keeping any of us from going back to living like the animals we are, all of us, truly, animals.

Because thinking about that—thinking about that—we might—might just—glitch.

Let the fruit rot on the trees. Let the houses fill with roaches. Let the weeds swallow up the whole town while we stare up at the sky with glassy eyes, the butterflies tiptoeing out of their nets and onto our unfeeling skin.


Joshua Beggs is a 2019 graduate from Hendrix College and a current MD candidate at Kansas University Medical Center, with publications appearing in Bamboo Ridge, Hamilton Stone Review, MAYDAY, Chestnut Review, and elsewhere. In his free time, he volunteers as a Spanish interpreter at his local free clinic, makes a podcast (which his mom says is awesome), and maintains an ongoing writing portfolio at his very imaginatively named website,