Lava Rug River, Wine Mountain

We crawl along a wooden plank, red-orange rug of molten lava bubbles inches beneath our palms. We grip engraved pillars to keep ourselves steady, thumbing grooves. Rug-burnt knees slip, hands fall to grip socked feet, uncles grumble. They play cards above us with cartoon knights and horses. Not regular playing cards: Italian cards, with Italian men holding secret Italian meanings in their sheaths. Nonno scratches lottery tickets while Nonna sings shaky songs in the kitchen.

We hop on cardboard box lids, clinging to each other. Search for a lava-proof paddle. Climbing carboys in the closet, we scale wicker-wrapped terrain in the dark with no harness. Wine-thief snake threatens to strike, red drops visible straight into its belly. Hearing our names called, we peer through shutters and make our way to dinner.



NICOLE HALDOUPIS is a writer, editor and designer from Toronto. She is currently living in Saskatoon completing an M.F.A. in writing. She co-created untethered, a Toronto-based literary journal. Her work can be found in (parenthetical), The Quilliad, and in the chapbook Food Works: plums in the icebox. Find her on Twitter @nicolehaldoupis.



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