avery nguyen


In anticipation of Halloween, the bed and breakfast next door had nestled palm-sized pumpkins and knobby mustard-streaked squash into mounds of red mulch. The first snow of the season fell shortly after, on Mischief Night. Flakes eased into the flowerbeds, ice crystals curling around melon vines. Faceless jack-o’-lanterns stood their ground beneath the October evening velvet dark. Through thunder and hail, through storm and stress. Blind lanterns in the night.

But no one hires landscapers in January, even if delicata flesh is melting into the ice and someone really ought to haul the autumn harvest away. Five months after costumes and candy, there was nothing left of the seeds and the fruit. Except there was everything: wrinkled vegetable skins curled around rotting pulp centers, heaps of compost crowned with woody stems, a cosmos contained in papery yellow peels. Decay inexorable, just one consonant between gourd and gore.

Avery Nguyen writes from MIT, where they are a chemical engineering undergrad and moonlight alternately as a materials scientist, nuclear engineer, and words enthusiast. They tweet @systellura.