​​H E R M E N E U T I C   C H A O S   J O U R N A L

Salena Casha's work has appeared in over 30 publications. She was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her story "Il Sale Della Terra" which appeared in the fall issue of Mulberry Fork Review and a flash fiction piece of hers was selected by Roxane Gay for the Top (Very) Short Stories of 2015. She was a finalist for the 2013-2014 Boston Public Library's Children's Writer-in-Residence and a 2011 Bread Loaf Scholarship Recipient in Fiction. Her first three picture books are housed under the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt umbrella. Follow her on twitter @salaylay_c 

                             S H O W   M E   H O W   Y O U   G E T   H E R E

​          It happens on the walk to Brattle Square. The cobblestones tick against boot-heels, threatening to unbalance even the most seasoned of Cambridge walkers. There’s a wrought-gate on the right hemmed in by mortared brick aged to a Harvard scarlet.

             This time, it’s a tourist, map in hand. Glasses fogged from steamed breath in the January cold. The places landmarked on the laminated foldout in between her gloved hands. The Coop, the Starbucks across from the college, the main green, the JP Licks down Mass Ave. A tour guide passes followed by a shuttling group of parents and students, his boating hat ribbed with red.

            The tourist edges toward the square. She wonders at the history beneath her feet. At the buildings striped in invisible blue-blood. She feels the young students in their polartechs and winter boots stomp past upon the same ground she finds so unfamiliar.

            It has yet to trip them, those uneven cobblestones.

            The tourist adjusts her glasses and moves further toward the square to the subway.

            A man in a green jacket with a charcoal beanie calls to her. “Young lady,” he says, smile wide, eyes light. “A newspaper? Boston’s homeless publication. Would you like to buy a newspaper?”

            She keeps moving past, adjusting scarf.

           “Have a good day,” he calls after her. She hears the echo of his next greeting like a skipping mixtape as she moves.

             Perhaps it’s something in his words because, moving toward the restaurant where she scheduled her lunch reservation, the cobblestones grow more uneven. Her foot catches, body stuttering forward. As she trips she sees a girl sitting against a building wall. A piercing in her nose, aqua eyes watered, cardboard clasped between her fingers:

            “Searching for Human Kindness.”

              She pauses and stops, the ebb and flow of life moving past and around her. It is then that she sees the couple sitting on the street corner in folding chairs her parent’s used to bring to soccer games. “Pregnant and trying to make ends meet.”

               The woman by the T stop: “Single and Keeping Family Together. Anything Helps”.

                The man passed out on the stone circle of benches, a shopping cart stacked high with mottled plastic bags.

                The wind rips across them all as the people of the square continue to move past these residents and she watches their paths, noticing that feet make the same loops around and beyond those static few and she wonders if they too are landmarks, unmarked, holding this place in its own space.

                 She does not move for hours but her body makes no dent in the surface, wondering if she is sitting on the same corner somewhere else in an alternate reality, coins in hand wondering at the brown bag of an effervescent liquid, thinking

                is this the only way

                to escape a place. 

S A L E N A   C A S H A