You looked at them as though they were about to give you leprosy, ticks, and lice at the same time. As though they carried all the diseases in the world and with every passing second, you risked being contaminated by their stench, their filth, their coarseness. I saw your air of disgust, Isabelle, and it made me feel sorry for them—I hoped they wouldn’t notice you watching them with so much contempt. You waved me over, and with a pleading look, said, “Let’s move? There are still two free seats at the other end of the car.”
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Maeva Hamel lived in a multi-storied heap of ancient brick, isolated by an expanse of floodplain and a screen of willows, at the end of an unmarked lane; and she wasn’t allowed visitors.
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The girl took her fingers out of her mouth and wiped them on her hat and mittens that she held in her other hand, the one she wasn’t chewing on. We looked around at each other to see who knew this girl. No one moves to our town without being related to someone already here. But we all stared wide-eyed and lifted our shoulders to our ears when someone caught our gaze. No one said a word. She was from away and no one, at least in our class, was claiming her. The silence continued and the radiators ticked.
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An office building last and an office building first. Two women in pink party dresses, one wore fuchsia gloves, went somewhere, couldn’t see, but was with a man unknown. Was in the office building finding lover and into a doctor’s office to get examined and the gurney had pillows smashed and the lover lay down with the custodian of the building. The doctor watched the lover lay his head on the custodian’s chest. Then in the Glenora house full of boxes. Then in a car. Driving. Parking. An office building up a big hill. Back up down the street. Question: Who is in the car? Read more →
We agreed to meet under a tree on the east side. I arrived a few minutes before her, which pleased me, because I needed to catch my breath. I sat on my knapsack so I wouldn’t get my dress wrinkled or dirty. Then I saw her coming from the other side of the park. I watched her, the rhythm of her walk, moving in her confident and unapologetic way; her cropped hair, her long arms…Her deep searching eyes flashed when she saw me. She smiled as she approached me and took my hand right away. She pulled me to her and she kissed me for a long moment.
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I stood up. I threw out the take-out boxes that had piled up in my condo like little, grease-stained bodies killed by the Black Death. No more dawdling. I was hurting, sure. But as I jammed the boxes down the garbage chute, I realized I wasn’t hurting as deeply as I should have been, and therein lay the problem: that I didn’t hurt as deeply as I should have proved Zoe right: I was “irredeemably frigid.” But did I want her to be right? No. I wanted her to be wrong. But for her to be wrong, I needed to hurt more. And I didn’t want to hurt more—I wanted to hurt less. I needed to hurt less. I needed to hurt less so that I could do important things, like sweep my bedroom floor, draft titles for the cosmic baby mush tube (“Big Bang Baby”?), and find a new roommate. Read more →
I was dying here. Not figuratively. I mean I was face down on the ground, blowing scarlet bubbles in a pool of blood, distilling slowly from a bullet wound that undid my face and all I could think was—there’s no way he intended to kill me.
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Today is garbage day. I’ve been wearing the same unwashed pajamas for weeks. (They aren’t ALF pajamas, though I have searched eBay for some that are.) I haven’t shaved in a while, either. I roll our plastic trash receptacle to the curb. I open the lid. I scream into it. This helps, but not as much as getting all those Facebook likes when I post a photo of ALF blowing out the candles on a birthday cake. I smell worse than our garbage.
That was his official story. Later I learned he’d followed a grad school lover from Boston, a woman who turned out not to have much interest in Julius. Often, when I delved into the reasons for my students’ displacement, they were unable to articulate a logical progression of events. It brought to mind the words of my Vietnamese friend who’d arrived as a boat person in the seventies. When asked why he’d left Saigon, he would shrug. “Because everyone else was leaving.”
That night, I dreamt about the rabbits. I was in the woods, chasing streaks of white and the glow of red eyes, and I couldn’t catch them. Finally I stopped, unable to catch my breath, and when I straightened up I saw them in a small clearing several feet ahead of me. They too had stopped, in front of a man. He had Tony’s face, hooded by his green rain jacket. He looked at me and seemed about to speak. I had a hundred questions on the tip of my tongue, and something told me he was ready to answer them. But then I woke up.