Speaks My Language by Katherine Forbes Riley

Speaks My Language

The first time was outside his office. It was January, and the day of a NASA rocket launch, and instead of hello he said, Do you know that rocket’s going 200,000 miles an hour? Without looking up from my book I said, How fast is the speed of light? He went away. Then he came back. 186,000 miles/secondStill a ways to go I guess, he said.

The second time was on the green. It was February but the sun was hot and the snow was soft as we walked across it, and bare in patches. Amazing, he said. It’s sublimating. I stared at that snowfield until it blinded me and then I said, Oh, no puddles.

This morning he stood behind me in line at the coffee shop. Today, he said, tilting his mug at me, is the spring equinox. So why will the day be three minutes longer than the night? I raised my eyes slowly up his shirt to his clavicle. Because of the light, I said, and then took a deep breath and raised them the rest of the way. Because it reaches us first.


Speaks My Language


Katherine Forbes Riley is a computational linguist and writer in Vermont. A Dartmouth graduate with a PhD from UPennsylvania, her creative writing appears in Blue Monday Review, decomP, Fiction Southeast, Noö, Spartan, Conium, James Franco Review, Mulberry Fork, Halfway Down The Stairs, Crack the Spine, Storyscape, Whiskey Island, Lunch Ticket, Eunoia, Literary Orphans, Eclectica, BlazeVOX, McNeese Review, Akashic Books, and Buffalo Almanack, from whom she received the Inkslinger’s Award. She is currently a Visiting Creative Writer at The American Academy in Rome.


(Next story: Tiny Stitches by L.L. Madrid)

(Previous “Kill People” story: The Many Ends of My Son #18 by Eugenio Volpe)

Feel like submitting? Check out our submission guidelines


Image by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA