December 4, 2023 | Rome, Italy


By |2018-03-21T18:40:36+01:00May 24th, 2010|"Short Fiction"|


  • Everyone suffers obsession of some sort. Have I to this day said anything about the gum stuffed in your purse? Sticky, half-wrapped pieces, all smelling of leather and coin metal. Blotted with threads and crumbs. Each empty gum sleeve reminds me of a legwarmer a squirrel or pigeon could wear.

  • Songs should not hurt; puddles should not break me.

  • I have conquered, without hardly trying, my fear of needles. When I was six, my mother would have to sing “America the Beautiful” to me as the pediatrician would slip the needle, like an ant’s stinging tooth, into the fat of my arm. You never congratulated this exploit. Yet you were ready to organize a parade when Doodles stopped leaking on the newspaper by the back door.

  • In vomiting, I find truth. Each surge, each gag and trickle… they validate.

  • Why not (may I ask)?

  • Please stop using the children as good reasons. Maybe they will look back on history and see that I have achieved much… the way we judge a president after some time.

  • Didn’t you ever want to be that interesting person at the party?

  • Now I don’t notice bugs in summer. But I admit, I’m not outside all that often.

  • It’s all so very Less than Zero, no?

  • You don’t need points to consider. I’m not asking you to consider anything. That would be like asking a bus permission to ride it. You go your way, I’ll go mine.

  • You should know that when I walk across the parking lot after a late meeting at work, the sun drooping behind me, the walk seems forever. I hear wailing.

  • Romantic comedies are partly responsible for this. Know that the next time you suggest anything with Kate Hudson in it.

  • I listen to “Comfortably Numb” and feel like an insider. The way a local on Martha’s Vineyard feels when the coffee guy already knows what he wants without his having to say.

  • This is better. This way is better, Sunbeam. (I still call you Sunbeam.)

  • One time my brother went to King’s Dominion with his friend’s family, and he wrote me a postcard. I could feel his energy, how he had gotten away and tasted a life he didn’t know he could have. It made my eyes burn. I’m the one writing the postcard now. That’s me in King’s Dominion.

  • The problem is connotation. We are too used to hearing addiction and thinking it means it’s wrong. Police are addicted to protecting, kids addicted to parks. Your mother (I know I thought I’d leave her out of this) is addicted to yard sales. And who’s to say if I couldn’t stop…if I’d want to.

  • I’m also addicted to you.

  • I would also like you to remember that I have marched on. Like a soldier. You hear stories of these guys who can’t get out of bed or who sell the family mattresses for their next hit. I have faithfully walked Doodles every morning and night, and who do you think makes sure the door by the garage is locked and the saw is out of Scotty’s reach? Saturday, I was up before you. The children made me horsey them around the living room, and I didn’t complain that your anything was getting in the way. Your mother called, and I had to lie for you and say you’d gone shoe shopping (for the Mallets’ pool party) because little miss productive can’t be caught sleeping.

  • Now I’m the one who is angry.

Ethan Joella teaches creative writing at Albright College in Pennsylvania. He was a finalist for the 2008 Eric Hoffer Award finalist and his story appears in “Best New Writing 2008.” He has also published in Perigee,The International Fiction Review, SNReview, Tiferet, Retort, Paradigm, and Stickman Review.

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