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Tuesday

Flash Reprint: Mary Lynn Reed’s “Every Week”

Every Week

by Mary Lynn Reed

 

I notice the silence, heavy and tast­ing metal­lic. Every week as he turns the sput­ter­ing engine off and steps into the gravel. We’re parked under the same win­dow, always the same spot. Some­times the light’s on, some­times it’s off. I don’t go inside because Jason tells me I shouldn’t and I know he’s right because he loves me and that’s why he does this at all.

 

I crack the win­dow and hear a car­di­nal singing. I squint at the glow in the five am sky, my brain thick with wor­ried no-sleep; I don’t look at the door because I don’t want to see Jason emerge from the too-silent frat house, where the party is over and no one is stir­ring, as he stum­bles to guide Miranda half-con­scious. So I lis­ten for birds and wait with eyes closed, for Jason to open my door and pour the girl I’m in love with into my arms. She won’t take the back seat, won’t accept even an inch of space between us. Not in these moments, on these Fri­days, after beers and tequila and whiskey shoot­ers on top bunk beds with naked big broth­ers: how many?

 

I’ll ignore the torn but­tons, the stains on her jeans, the gunk knot­ting her wavy red hair, as I open my arms and accept her harsh bony frame into my lap as her breath hits my neck, and soon her lips fol­low. Because when she whis­pers my name and my palms find her waist and I cradle her gen­tly, her heart will steady its beat and I’ll know for that moment she is safe and pro­tected; and when we’re back in our dorm room and the day breaks full open, she’ll kick off the blan­ket I’ve wrapped tightly around her, toss her hair over her shoul­der, and say: “Baby, Elisa, Sweet­heart, will you call the chauf­feur? Tell Jason I want pan­cakes and bacon. God, what a party–were you there? It’s crazy, I know, but I felt like I saw you. I could swear–”

 

 

Note: This story orig­i­nally appeared in Night Train, in Sep­tem­ber, 2008.


 

Author’s Note

I wrote this story in 2007, when some intense col­lege mem­o­ries were reac­ti­vated into my adult con­scious­ness and seemed des­per­ate to morph their way into my fic­tion, whether I liked it or not. The first draft did not include names for any of the char­ac­ters, and while I thought the con­text of the story gave enough infor­ma­tion to deduce the sex of the nar­ra­tor, sev­eral early read­ers expressed con­fu­sion. This seemed to be a recur­ring “prob­lem” with my first per­son short sto­ries at the time, when my nar­ra­tor was unnamed but in love with a woman, het­ero­sex­ual assump­tion would often over­ride strong con­tex­tual infor­ma­tion that the nar­ra­tor was female. While I’m gen­er­ally a fan of fic­tion that aims to tran­scend gen­der spec­i­fi­ca­tion and let the reader bring their own inter­pre­ta­tion, I intended this story to be specif­i­cally gen­dered, so after real­iz­ing the issue some read­ers were hav­ing, I revised to include names for all three char­ac­ters in the text. After some inter­nal strug­gle over this, in the end, I think the clar­ity achieved by using the names was worth it. The first place I sent the revised ver­sion of the story was Night Train, where it was accepted and pub­lished in Sep­tem­ber, 2008.

 

MLReed_photo.jpgMary Lynn Reed’s fic­tion has appeared in The MacGuffin, Smoke­long Quar­terly, FRiGG, Pis­gah Review, Word Riot, and Sakura Review, among other places. Her work has been awarded the Per Con­tra Prize in Short Fic­tion, the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land Kather­ine Anne Porter Fic­tion Prize, and selected as one of the Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Sto­ries (of 2008). She has an MFA in Cre­ative Writ­ing from the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land and a Ph.D. in Math­e­mat­ics from the Uni­ver­sity of Illi­nois.


 

FF.Net Edi­tor Com­men­tary (Ran­dall Brown) 

No-sleep.Too-silent. Half-con­scious. They are some­thing of a “ken­ning,” two words con­nected by a hyphen to cre­ate a new word, some­thing more fig­u­ra­tive, like call­ing clouds sky-cur­tains. At the end, these hyphens lengthen into dashes, cut­ting off & con­nect­ing Miranda to the nar­ra­tor. Ken­nings! Em-dash inter­rupted dia­logue! Flash-bril­liance!

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