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March '05  

news: Hobart #4 available now!

Family Values
by Erik Olsen

by Hilarie Shanley

by Nicholas Grider

You Don't Listen Anymore
by David Henry Fears

by Todd Robert Petersen

by Nathan Leslie

When the man left it all behind, it wasn’t for love, or God, or the distant glimmer of gold. It was silence that lured him. The man longed for nothingness, or to get as close to it as possible. In his mind a vision burned: a plain, an empty horizon, the sound of his feet through the grass, the only sound. This vision kept him comfort as a part of the working world. Now, in his waning days, he sought to make it a reality.

The man set out by foot, leaving his belongings in his split-level, leaving his car in the garage, his friends with their concerns, his wife and children with theirs. He walked through the city streets, barraged by the sounds of buses and motorcycles, street vendors, car alarms, the conversations of passersby, radios, the buzz of electricity. The man walked out of the city past neighborhoods littered with the cries of children playing, sprinklers spraying, lawnmowers running, birds chirping, telephones ringing. He walked out onto country roads where tractors moaned, and planes buzzed, dogs barked and owls hooted. He left the roads and walked into fields where crickets chirped, and cows mewed, and rain fell. He rested under the cool darkness of an oak tree and slept, shutting his ears with earplugs, and further muffling his ears with his hands.

For months, the man walked westward, into the most desolate plains imaginable. Still, he could find little silence. There were always distant sounds—the thrum of traffic, a stray plane, the sounds of distant animals. And if nothing else, the ceaseless wind always whipped through the grasses, stirring up dirt, brushing through his hair. The man thought he might never find solace, or peace.

Weeks later he stumbled upon a cavern in the looming hills at the far border of distant plains. He crawled on all fours into an expansive dark room. His flashlight revealed hundreds of feet of space in every direction. It was pitch black, and the only sound he could hear was himself—his breathing, his heart beating, his feet shuffling. The man sat upon the cold floor of the cavern, and shut his flashlight off. For hours he sat there in cavern, in the stillness, and he wept. His breathing slowed. His heart calmed. The great rest was just ahead.

Nathan Leslie has published two collections of short fiction, most recently A Cold Glass of Milk (Uccelli Press, 2003). His fiction, poetry, and essays have been published or are forthcoming in over one hundred literary magazines including StorySouth, Chattahoochee Review, Fiction International, Baltimore Review, Chiron Review, Tulane Review, and Orchid. Nathan is currently the fiction editor for The Pedestal Magazine.