Nick Olson

Clouds of Static

off the deep end by Edward Michael Supranowicz


Plug red, white, and yellow wires into VCR.

Change TV to channel 3.

Turn on VCR (make sure no tape is in VCR).

If tape is in VCR, rewind to beginning.

Watch tape and follow as news report about Princess Di segues to home movie, then back again.

Make sure red, white, and yellow wires are plugged in.

If weird sound comes from TV, check that wires are plugged into proper color.

Scan VHS tapes for footage of your parents before their respective breakdowns.

Realize that this is all you have of that time, besides Swiss cheese brain memories.

Take out cartridge from game system.

Blow on the contacts and reinsert into game system.

Put in one of those VCR head cleaners to get past the tracking, magnetic damage.

Tell your previously-recorded mother that you’re okay now.

If TV flashes blue screen, try re-docking cartridge into game system.

Get cell phone footage of your LCD parents as the tape grinds, before it gets stuck in the VCR.

If other games don’t work, try Super Mario Bros.

Test the system.

Try to remember the last number you have for either of your parents.

Try to remember the last time you saw them.

Try to remember their faces.

If game system still doesn’t work, turn it off.

Watch the way the screen’s blue is intersected by clouds of static.

Ask for help.


About the writer:
Nick Olson is a writer and editor from Chicago now living in North Carolina. He was a finalist for Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Award, and he’s been published in SmokeLong Quarterly, Hobart, decomP, and other fine places. When he’s not writing his own work, he’s sharing the wonderful work of others over at (mac)ro(mic). His debut novel, Here’s Waldo, will be published through Atmosphere Press.

Image: Off the Deep End by Edward Michael Supranowicz.  Digital image. No technical information specified. 2020. By permission. Supranowicz has had artwork and poems published in the US and other countries. Both sides of his family worked in the coal mines and steel mills of Appalachia.