Category: story time

Another time—yes, there was another time, but only one other time, and that not really—I saw her acting out some obscurely tragic final scene, rushing from room to room in a space not entirely unlike that flat but cross-sectioned like a stage, lamenting and gesticulating. The melodrama, the motion, the volume—oh the things I’d say […]

I step out of the office and into the hall for an hors d’oeurve taste of corridor’d freedom, industrial-carpeted and fluorescent, tans and grays and whitishes with a texture at once abrasive and numbing, unsatisfying like a tease of a snack on a toothpick that’s been sitting out too long but is better than no […]

Dream one. At a crowded beach on a warm, sunny day, big puffy white clouds in the sky that eventually overtook the sun, leaving its warmth behind but dimming the glare and gleam. With a few people, trying to decide if we should wait for the sun to return or be on our way. Cars […]

Around two o’clock in the afternoon on a bright and chilly Chicago Thursday, a man in a black wool overcoat, scarf, and leather gloves walks into my bookstore and begins to browse without so much as a hint of acknowledgement that another human being is present. So I, sitting behind the cluttered, lifeworn counter on […]

This is the first quarter or so of a story I more or less finally finished the other day. It’s mainly about judgment and projections, I think. Of course she’s sweet about it, handing mister plump and dumpy the grey newsboy cap he’d dropped a moment ago from the upper level of the train car […]

A fellow called Chris Knapp in The Paris Review, not me. Maybe I should tweet about it, so we both get some attention. And there again’s that jealousy. But it’s really not, not for talent, at least. No, only for its rewarded absence. In that offense does the injustice lie. This Knapp fellow’s talent isn’t […]

Those two over there, yeah, the table in the corner right there. Before you got here he said: “Are you more of a wine girl or, uh, martinis? I’m not much of a wine guy but I’d maybe go for a pinot grigio.” The waitress has come by their table three times already. Oh, no, […]

Part 4 of 4. It’s finally over. If you want, here’s the rest: part 1, part 2, and, of course, part 3. I don’t much like how this ends but so it goes. He has written a note and left it on the table. The window, now closed and locked, is doing its time-weary best […]

Part 3 of 4. Read part 1 and/or part 2. Or just tell your friends you did. She sits at the small square table by the half-open window, now in his chair, trying to feel his angle, again wearing the white sun dress but now with gray wool leggings below and a crimson cardigan unbuttoned […]

Part 2 of 4. Read part 1 here. Or else. She sits in her chair at the same small square table by the same open window, a sultry, hazy sky beyond, air like bath water in both hue and temperature and stillness, air soaked up by the same hills and trees, same curtains, same oxalis, same […]

This is the first of a four-part storyish kind of thing. Trying something a little new here—well, the story’s old, or the idea for it anyway, but I’m sharing it anew. It is morning, spring, and he sits by the open window at the small, square table covered in a light linen tablecloth with trim […]

This story is not about to be recited, only retold. I just want you to know I’m sticking to the rules. We’re all grown folks here and what do grown folks do if not retell.

I sat there in my train seat with the book open on my lap hoping he wouldn’t look over and see what I was reading. That was years ago.

Is this your girlfriend? The guy at the next table asked me loudly in one of those booming broadcast voices, pointing at her, as if she couldn’t answer for herself and was some kind of stranger even though she was clearly sitting with them, clearly sitting and smiling, and clearly smiling at me when I […]

Silently crying on the morning train she was, all arms and legs and despair half-heaped and sliding like a pile of melting Dalí clocks over the blue vinyl seat-back beside her and I thought she might finally pour off onto the floor in a puddle of person if not for that crooked arm all crooked […]

The flight came in two hours late, right on time. Every day of being here has been like that, almost. Constant state of fight and fright, afterflight. So much of how we speak is based on vision, I think.

It’s not easy to sit here and tell you what’s wrong with me. Not when I spend so much time thinking there’s nothing. Or nothing I can’t handle—big difference, seems, seems especially now, now, now, now that I’m feeling a little beneath the task of being. What does the past look like and feel like […]

Looking at Marshall while an old blue-hair scholar sort in a wheelchair wheels around, silent hard rubber on smooth stone floor, wheels around and up to wall-sized nail-hung canvases like tarps thick with paint and all kinds of consciousness—Stono, Rococo, Chicago—and offers half-whispered, breathless assayances to a shuffling handful throng of acolytes who’d surely love […]

It was just that he would wonder why | why he could have a vision of laying on his back with her in the yellow-green grass, hands behind their anything but lazy heads and eyes lazy glazed upward gazing at a day sky blue-gray overcast and seeing the scene like he was the one taking […]

Her birthday was two days and a couple years before mine, Lit majors both. She smoked and had sharp, bird-like features and skinny arms and legs like a too-tall little girl and a tattoo of an orca in the style of the art of Pacific Northwest Native Americans on the back of her right shoulder […]

Wild things. They put on their wild thing suits and get all stirred up and wreak wild thing havoc and are sent to their rooms without their supper, rooms by which, however, naturally, of course, they cannot be contained because they’re wild things, after all, and so they drift off to a wild thing wilderness—or […]

He walked out ahead, tolerating us, tolerating her, tolerating me enjoying her, all a little drunk and enjoying tolerance as we moved along the wet pavement in the night under dim tolerant streetlamps, the line of parked cars glistening, dark brick and concrete and steel rising up on either side into nothing we cared to […]

The shoeshine guy from the store across the street walks by me on the sidewalk as I stand there making a call to a restaurant I’ll never get into because I always wait till the last minute to make a reservation and asks, after a simple hello nod, “you married?” “No,” I say after a pause, […]

Monique speaks French and I tell her that’s nice, but not in French though because I don’t speak it, not anymore. Anymore is a stretch. I tell her I used to speak some (French), just a little, and she gets excited, lights up, speaking to me en français—ah, bon, she says, le etcetera, le etcetera—because […]

She gets on the train in the morning and sits nearby, just happens to, like she’s happened to so many times before, and once again my imagination runs away with both of us, breathless and fast and stumbling over itself, thinking of asking hers to step outside all this for a moment to speak, one to […]

This is the cave in which doubt, fear, and inhibition speak in whispers lightly amplified, echoing faintly off thick walls, filling your ears with the sensible nonsense of less. The voice is familiar, what it speaks is familiar, its tone and content the wearisome comfort of conventional mediocrity, repetition, and limitation in the face of […]

I fell out of love here—well, not so much fell out of love as a love, the longest-lived and most complex and intense of my (semi) mature romances, fell apart. Right there on that porch, in fact, did the crumbling begin. We had chairs and a table then, and it was much warmer, late summer. I remember how […]