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Three Stories, All Unfinished

by K. W.



On Fridays he would have tea in the piazza and watch the children play in the fountain as he waited for her to arrive. She would turn the corner exactly one minute after the last church bell rang. He admired the way she dressed. She dressed, he once told her, like an elderly nun just freed from her clergical duties. She preferred bright colors. Red, her favorite. The color of her splayed lipstick. In the midst of insignificant conversations, she thought it her duty to quote Schopenhauer.


Before the pool and the drowning, there were the two of us plastered to the back seat of your parents’ car. The A/C was broken. Your mom kept turning her head and yelling from the front seat that the A/C was working just fine up in the front, but we rolled our eyes in the back, the sweat on our still-yet-to-sprout-hair legs clamping our thighs together like packaged slices of raw bacon. We were regretting our choice that year.


Later in college I would sit in the back row of a large lecture hall and listen to a psychology professor in a wool coat explain the availability heuristic. Our belief in unlikely traumatic events, he told us, lives in our imaginations. It’s their availability – their existence in media, in culture, in sensational and horrific details – that makes them so real to us. As in every class, as in every aspect of life, I took notes, feverishly, as the professor went on about other cognitive biases. And as I wrote, I thought of you, of us, of my fears and your denial – two sides to the same American coin minted under the Southern sun.

Tell me again, will you, how it was so easy for you to forget.


Just now a car passes on an empty street next to the store. It stops at a light. Inside is a girl. The girl turns and smiles at him. He doesn’t smile back; instead, he thinks about brushing his lips against the car door, or rubbing his chest against the car window, or pulling the girl from the passenger side and walking briskly into the now-closed store and asking an off-duty salesman to show them the best treadmill they have in stock.

The light changes, the car speeds off and he is left on the corner staring at his pair of thin legs. He rolls himself into the crosswalk before the sign flashes white. School starts again tomorrow morning. He has three more blocks to go.



K.W. writes and consumes.

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