Three Short Fictions

Nicolette Polek



How to Choose the Right Backdrop Color for A Nervous Breakdown

There are many types of fabrics that can be used for backdrop curtains, but Velour is by far the most common. A nice heavy pile weave is really excellent for absorbing light, as well as the sound of a voice as it fumbles in and out of a slowly disassociated reality. Velour’s rich look as it drapes and hangs are best in the following colors to enhance any mood for a moment in collapse.

1202 Old Jade, dark yet elegant, a blackened tone that works well for a single subject and offers a certain timeless mystique. Color of an old tuck tire

9004 Pussywillow is a warming grey that emphasizes details on a subject, like their broach, a stray hair. Looks like fog that engulfs.

8872 Eggplant, an ideal backdrop for children, brings with it a strong sense of fantasy, imagination. Curtains in darker shades of this color are found to be subtly more depressing. The color of an eggplant.

3085 Marvel Red, known as a color that increases appetite and raises blood pressure. Note that red is synonymous with both love and rage. A color found on fire trucks, the S on Superman.

4101 Brandy is a full-bodied yellow that is off-putting when looked at for an extended period of time.

3980 American Ash Rose, a playful shade, might feel regressive or too overtly feminine.

5013 Cornflower, a cooler shade of blue that naturally suppresses the appetite, a color a mouse would paint her home, the color of a baby rattle.






How to Eat Well

I ask my nephew to bring something nice for dinner, “Something substantial this time,” I say, looking down at a dried out quail wing at breakfast. My nephew catches a 90-pound rabbit in the pine forest that evening. Every night he goes into the woods with a basket for foraging skullcap and mushrooms, valerian root and red currants, but this time he comes home with a black leviathan, this plump dead rabbit slung across his shoulders like a beached whale. He enthusiastically skins it that evening, cuts it into silky flanks and wraps them in butcher paper, filling our entire ice box and our neighbors ice box, and bringing the leftovers to the meat shop down the road. The next seven days we eat and eat rabbit for breakfast and for snacks and for dessert, until we turn plump and dark in the eyes. I eat crimson leg meat that puts me asleep at dinner, and my nephew carries me to my study, slung across his shoulders, where I dream that I live in a castle, where a brotherhood lives behind a door that the tallest pine tree has fallen in front of.







Purchasing a Tube of #94W Opium Red

Eden and Zion find themselves looking at the makeup in the mall. In youth, they were the genre of kids who quietly flattened themselves away in hidden interiors—behind the curtains or in the azaleas, but now they’re growing fast into chiseled dark-skinned twins with square jaws and leaden alto voices for the choir at St. Teresa’s Academy for Girls.

Last night at family dinner, they fell into one of their fights and knocked over their aunt’s urn when Eden pushed Zion into the Moroccan carpet. Next thing, they were tousling over ashes.

Today they’ve stood up for falling down, and are looking for a nice succulent to give to their mother as an apology. Something for the office. Eden stops at one of the counters to use a concealer for the sucker-punch mark on her shoulder from Zion, the fragrances mixing around them into a musk.

They recognize a group of girls from St. Teresa’s over by the handbags and Zion looks over at Eden electrically. The girls are on the equestrian team and are what Zion calls “Bean Heads,” because they put coffee grounds in their cigarettes to get high before their horse shows. Eden looks the other way and chooses a tube of lipstick from the counter that best matches the creeping blush on her cheeks.

Zion knows that Eden loves the girl with straight ginger hair and gets turned on when she watches her ride. To Eden there’s something about how that girl has conquered nature by mastering such a massive animal. Zion slowly leans toward Eden and hisses something into her ear, yanking her hair in punctuation. Eden digs her tube of lipstick into the counter so it leaves a clay-like pile of burnt red onto the surface, similar to the fire-like abyss of adolescence that punches her.


Nicolette Polek is from Cleveland, Ohio. She attends Bennington College, where she was recently awarded the 2015 MFA Undergraduate Fellowship in Fiction. Her recent work has been published in The Pacifica Literary Review, and forthcoming in The Chicago Quarterly Review.