Don’t let the dummy run the asylum.

Altered Egos by Kenneth Girard (1983)

I’ve sought out two stories based entirely on their art being featured in Tumblr posts.

The first is the short story “Snake Head” by Lynda Leidiger, featured in the October 1979 issue of Playboy. I purchased said issue, then later also found the story in The New Generation: Fiction for Our Time from America’s Writing Programs from 1987 and purchased that as well. I’ve lost the link to the original Tumblr post but suffice to say they sold me on the story.

The second is the recently Tumblr’ed novel Altered Egos by Kenneth Girard from 1983. It was the creepy dummy that compelled me to find it.

I’m only partway into Altered Egos and I can’t help but notice a parallel. Both stories feature women who are seemingly possessed by powers beyond their reckoning. Both protagonists are stuck in situations manipulated by more powerful men. Both characters use lifeless, anthropomorphized objects to express some dissatisfaction with what ought to be, and in the process discover some aspects of themselves that they were incapable of expressing before. 

Simple connections, meaningless happenstance. Something compelling to think about.

New Fiction 2020

Previously: 20192018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013

Short Stories

Novels

Comic Shorts/Single Issues

Video Games

Short Films

Movies

TV Episodes

TV Series

New Fiction 2019 – March

Alita: Battle Angel dir. Robert Rodriguez (2019)

An artificial person like Alita is going to exist, I reckon. I’m going to fall into an armchair of the future and fail to recognize where I am, who I am. A person with a brain? A soldier or a daughter. I don’t think it would be so bad to dream of electric sheep.

Captain Marvel dir. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (2019)

I’ve wanted to fly since 1990. A big, garish plane, capable of landing on water or land or ice and snow. All ports as home and no home at all. Danvers, denied the opportunity, breaks free of her roles to fly in the most amazing way. Her spirit is infectious, if well-familiar.

Us dir. Jordan Peele (2019)

The shadow of the shadow is the person. Somehow, the shadow wants to kill, and so it is suppressed and buried. A living burial is a horrifying, the most terrible thing you can do. Please don’t bury me, or anyone. Leave us out in the sun.

The Grand Budapest Hotel dir. Wes Anderson (2014)

A little window in the middle of the wall is the clearest view. Peer through it and see inside, then see inside, then see inside. The care of each of us is up to all of us, and yet you are remembered fondly, even as you live, even as you die.

Dragged Across Concrete dir. S. Craig Zahler (2018)

The long draw is an invention of the American Western. It’s the kind of story where a man is left standing, top of the heap. Knowledge of the law is, after all, the best way to break it.

New Fiction 2019 – February

Super Mario Bros. 3 dev. Nintendo EAD (1988)

A technical completion, if one considers previous playthroughs in which I reached the ending by using warp whistles to be cheating, and I do, dear reader. The full context of every world and level helps me to truly appreciate this landmark work, and when compared against my similarly thorough completion of Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA) last year, I can now see how this third entry in the series is the more engaging game. The worlds are more varied and lively, the characters still new and fresh to the end, and the short completion of each level is outdone by the number of them in each world. It’s a wonderful game and just fun to play from start to finish.

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday dir. Adam Marcus (1993)

I chose this movie because I was once too scared to even attempt it–one of many such instances from my childhood. But it was on Netflix, and you know how one does. However, unlike some other previously avoided horror movies, such as Child’s Play, this was an embarrassing movie to have skipped so long ago. It’s the hackiest of eighties horror filmmaking brought forward into the nineties, and I was stunned throughout its runtime. Just, what is this? What’s happening to me? Jason’s a worm now?

New Fiction 2019 – January

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (1989)

This novel was the sort of dissonant, well-performed journey that seems possible only in a dream, and yet, I think, here we are. We’re in this time of strange, unbelievable events, and sometimes it’s nice to imagine something could magically sweep through and end the madness.

Mary Poppins Returns dir. Rob Marshall (2018)

It’s more of the same, a safe bet by Disney, and I smiled more times than I could count. Blunt is a cheekier Poppins than fans of the original might be used to. I mean, she’s great, she’s your cool aunt, she’s all our cool aunt, so yes I’m glad she returned to shake things up and remind us to sing.

The Bone Collector dir. Phillip Noyce (1999)

At first you think, wow, Denzel, this is some boldass docility, but then you remember that Washington is the sort of actor with a movie star smile, and you realize ah, yes, of course this is perfect, it’s all smile and attitude. The murders are gnarly, the puzzles are weak, but it’s good to add another piece of Washington oeuvre to the lexicon.

American Gangster dir. Ridley Scott (2007)

So hey, why not another? It’s not the strongest turn by either lead actor, but an interesting story and the kind of thing you can’t believe was happening in this, our United States of America. But it did, and it does, and the notion of good cops and bad guys being complicated figures doesn’t quite matter when you see the bodies left in their wake.

Glass dir. M. Night Shyamalan (2019)

It was a bit of extra information, Shyamalan’s epilogue that ran too long. The premise is cool but it’d be better if it was a series of interviews until the end. An HBO series, maybe?

Escape Room dir. Adam Robitel (2019)

I thought, “damn, this is like watching a video game,” and I don’t like simply watching video games. Level one, level two, and so on. And now horror movies anticipate sequels? Ya don’t gotta do that.

Parks and Recreation (2009-2015)

I love The Simpsons, at least those episodes of my generation, and this was a nice take on the sitcom that builds up a town instead of just its core cast. Some jokes, especially those repeated comments about Jones’s beauty, fall flat, and will be among the takes people bring up about the show in the coming decades. Plaza is probably the one I like most for her character’s begrudging acceptance of kindness and sympathy.

The Punisher – Season 2 (2019)

Should I like this guy? I don’t want to, and so I don’t think he’s doing anything noble or worthy of a hero. But then, you don’t have to like someone to appreciate well-executed revenge. This is Revenge City and I’d hang out here again.

New Fiction 2017

Previously: 20162015, 2014, 2013

Short Stories 

  • “Most Die Young” by Camille Bordas (2017)
  • “That Baby” by Lindsay Hunter (2010)
  • “On the Street Where You Live” by Yiyun Li (2017)
  • “The Mule Rustlers” by Joe R. Lansdale (2001)
  • “Underground” by David Gilbert (2017)
  • “Constructed Worlds” by Elif Batuman (2017)
  • “Chairman Spaceman” by Thomas Pierce (2017)
  • “Quarantine” by Alix Ohlin (2017)  
  • “Maniac Loose” by Michael Malone (2001)
  • “Counting” by Fred Melton (2001)
  • “You Don’t Know Me” by Annette Meyers (2001)
  • “The High School Sweetheart” by Joyce Carol Oates (2001)
  • “Harlem Nocture” by Robert P. Parker (2001)
  • “Midnight Emissions” by F. X. Toole (2001)
  • “A Lepidopderist’s Tale” by Daniel Waterman (2001)
  • “The Copper Kings” by Scott Wolven (2001)
  • “Everywhere” by Geoff Ryman (1999)
  • “Willing”

    by Lorrie Moore (1998)

  • “Which Is More Than I Can Say About Some People” by Lorrie Moore (1998)
  • “Dance in America”

    by Lorrie Moore (1998)

  • “Community Life”

    by Lorrie Moore (1998)

  • “Agnes of Iowa”

    by Lorrie Moore (1998)

  • “Charades”

    by Lorrie Moore (1998)

  • “Four Calling Birds, Three French Hens”

    by Lorrie Moore (1998)

  • “Beautiful Grade”

    by Lorrie Moore (1998)

  • “What You Want to Do Fine”

    by Lorrie Moore (1998)

  • “Real Estate”

    by Lorrie Moore (1998)

  • “People Like That Are The Only People Here: Canonical Babbling in Peed Onk”

    by Lorrie Moore (1998)

  • “Terrific Mother”

    by Lorrie Moore (1998)

  • “Veterans” by Laurie Alberts (1982)
  • “The Vanity of Small Differences” by Eileen Pollack (1987)
  • “The Big Sway” by Dennis Johnson (1986)
  • “Things to Draw” by Katharine Andres (1984)
  • “I Ate Her Heart” by Bob Shacochis (1986)

Novels

  • Night of the Living Dummy III by R. L. Stine (1996)
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852)

Plays

  • The Crucible by Arthur Miller (1953)

Graphic Novels/Trades

  • Sex Criminals Volume 1 by Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky (2014)
  • Sex Criminals Volume 2 by Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky (2015)

  • Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson (2016)
  • Blobby Boys by Alex Schubert (2013)
  • Very Casual by Michael DeForge (2013)
  • My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris (2017)
  • The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures by Phoebe Gloeckner (2002)
  • Batman: Earth One Volume 1 by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Jonathan Sibal, Rob Leigh, Brad Anderson (2012)
  • Batman: Earth One Volume 2

    by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Jonathan Sibal, Rob Leigh, Brad Anderson (2015)

  • Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Batman by Brian Azzarello, J. T. Krul, Peter Milligan, Jimmy Palmiotti (2012)

Video Games

  • The Walking Dead: Michonne dev. TellTale Games (2016)
  • The Walking Dead: A New Frontier dev. TellTale Games (2016-2017)
  • The Last Guardian dev. SIE Japan Studio (2016)
  • Octodad: Dadliest Catch dev. Young Horses (2014)
  • Among the Sleep dev. Krillbite Studio (2014)
  • Grow Home dev. Ubisoft Reflections (2015)
  • Grow Up dev. Ubisoft Reflections (2016)

  • DuckTales dev. Capcom (1989)
  • Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers dev. Capcom (1990)
  • TaleSpin dev. Capcom (1991)
  • Darkwing Duck dev. Capcom (1992)
  • DuckTales 2 dev. Capcom (1993)
  • Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers 2

    dev. Capcom (1994)

  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor by Monolith Productions (2014)
  • Mad Max by Avalanche Studios (2015)
  • INSIDE by Playdead (2016)
  • The Beginner’s Guide dev. Everything Unlimited Ltd. (2015)
  • The Adventures of Batman & Robin for Sega CD (1995)
  • Frog Fractions by Twinbeard Studios (2012)
  • Grand Theft Auto IV by Rockstar North (2008)
  • Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City by Rockstar North (2010)
  • Cuphead by StudioMDHR (2017)
  • Hidden Agenda by Supermassive Games (2017)

Short Films

  • “Conventional” dir. Karen Gillan (2015)
  • “Mindenki” dir. Kristóf Deák (2016)

  • “Silent Nights” dir. Aske Bang (2016)

  • “Ennemis Intérieurs” dir. Sélim Azzazi (2016)

  • “Timecode” dir. Juanjo Giménez Peña (2016)
  • “La Femme et le TGV” dir. Timo von Gunten (2016)

  • “Borrowed Time” dir. Andrew Coats, Lou Hamou-Lhadj (2016)

  • “Pearl” dir. Patrick Osborne (2016)

  • “Blind Vaysha” dir. Theodore Ushev (2016)
  • “Piper” dir. Alan Barillaro (2016)

  • “Asteria” dir. Alexandre Arpentinier, Mathieu Blanchys, Lola Grand, Tristan Lamarca, Thomas Lemaille, Jean-Charles Lusseau (2017)
  • “The Head Vanishes” dir. Franck Dion (2016)
  • “Once Upon a Line” dir. Alicja Jasina (2016)
  • “Pear Cider and Cigarettes” dir. Robert Valley (2016)
  • “Things Wong Kar-Wai Taught Me About Love” dir. Alice Dallow (2004)
  • “Nut Guilty” dir. Lloyd French (1936)
  • “June” dir. John Kahrs (2016)
  • “5 Films About Technology” dir. Peter Huang (2017)
  • “A Short Vision” dir. Peter and Joan Foldes (1956)
  • “Lou” dir. Dave Mullins (2017)
  • “Grickle Television (vol.2)” dir. Graham Annable (2017)
  • “Killing Time”
    dir. Graham Annable (2017)
  • “Sunday afternoon”

    dir. Graham Annable (2017)

  • “Blower”

    dir. Graham Annable (2017)

  • “Story of R32” dir. Vladimir Vlasenko (2015)
  • “Flight 851”

    dir. Graham Annable (2017)

  • “Hi Stranger” dir. Kirsten Lepore (2016)
  • “El Chapulín Brujo” dir. Gabriela Badillo (2013)

Films

  • Why Him? dir. John Hamburg (2016)
  • Passengers dir. Morten Tyldum (2016)
  • Snowpiercer dir. Joon-ho Bong (2013)
  • The Men Who Stare at Goats dir. Grant Heslov (2009)
  • Hidden Figures dir. Theodore Melfi (2016)
  • Elle dir. Paul Verhoeven (2016)
  • Silence dir. Martin Scorsese (2016)
  • The Founder dir. John Lee Hancock (2017)
  • Split dir. M. Night Shyamalan (2017)
  • 20th Century Women dir. Mike Mills (2016)
  • Growing Up Smith dir. Frank Lotito (2017)
  • Un Padre No Tan Padre dir. Raúl Martínez (2016)
  • Night of the Comet dir. Thom Eberhardt (1984)
  • Puppet Master dir. David Schmoeller (1989)
  • Magic dir. Richard Attenborough (1978)
  • John Wick dir. Chad Stahelski, David Leitch (2014)
  • John Wick: Chapter 2 dir. Chad Stahelski (2017)
  • Get Out dir. Jordan Peele (2017)
  • Poltergeist dir. Tobe Hooper (1982)
  • Dolls dir. Stuart Gordon (1987)
  • Dead of Night dir. Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Robert Hamer, Basil Dearden (1945)

  • Logan dir. James Mangold (2017)
  • A United Kingdom dir. Amma Asante (2016)
  • Trilogy of Terror dir. Dan Curtis (1975)
  • Dead Silence dir. James Wan (2007)
  • The Conjuring dir. James Wan (2013)
  • Goosebumps dir.  Rob Letterman (2015)
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind dir. Hayao Miyazaki (1984)

  • Annabelle dir. John R. Leonetti (2014)
  • The Conjuring 2 dir. James Wan (2016)
  • The Great Gabbo dir. James Cruze, Erich von Stroheim (1929)
  • Devil Doll dir. Lindsay Shonteff (1964)
  • Tourist Trap dir. David Schmoeller (1979)
  • Pinocchio’s Revenge dir. Kevin S. Tenney (1996)
  • Black Devil Doll from Hell dir. Chester Novell Turner (1984)
  • Tales from the Hood dir. Rusty Cundieff (1995)
  • Blood Dolls dir. Charles Band (1999)
  • Demonic Toys dir. Peter Manoogian (1992)
  • Doll Graveyard dir. Charles Band (2005)
  • House of Evil dir. Jack Hill, Juan Ibáñez (1968)

  • Kong: Skull Island dir. Jordan Vogt-Roberts (2017)
  • The Doll Master dir. Jeong Yong-ki (2004)

  • Death Doll dir. William Mims (1989)
  • The Devil’s Gift dir. Kenneth J. Berton (1984)

  • Dolly Dearest dir. Maria Lease (1991)
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service dir. Hayao Miyazaki (1989)
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox dir. Wes Anderson (2009)
  • Sleeping Beauty dir. Clyde Geronimi (1959)
  • Life dir. Daniel Espinosa (2017)
  • Ghost in the Shell dir. Rupert Sanders (2017)
  • Beauty and the Beast dir. Bill Condon (2017)
  • Gifted dir. Marc Webb (2017)
  • Frantz dir. François Ozon (2016)
  • The Fate of the Furious dir. F. Gary Gray (2017)
  • Your Name dir. Makoto Shinkai (2016)
  • Colossal dir. Nacho Vigalondo (2016)
  • The Lost City of Z dir. James Gray (2016)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 dir. James Gunn (2017)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales dir. Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg (2017)
  • Going in Style dir. Zach Braff (2017)
  • The Lovely Bones dir. Peter Jackson (2009)
  • 2 Fast 2 Furious dir. John Singleton (2003)
  • Fast Five dir. Justin Lin (2011)
  • Fast and Furious 6

    dir. Justin Lin (2013)

  • Furious 7

    dir. Justin Lin (2015)

  • The Zookeeper’s Wife dir. Niki Caro (2017)
  • Wonder Woman dir. Patty Jenkins (2017)

  • Alien: Covenant dir. Ridley Scott (2017)
  • Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem dir. The Brothers Strause (2007)
  • Arrietty dir. Hiromasa Yonebayashi (2010)
  • It Comes at Night dir. Trey Edward Shults (2017)
  • Cars 3 dir. Brian Fee (2017)
  • Baywatch dir. Seth Gordon (2017)
  • Transformers: The Last Knight dir. Michael Bay (2017)
  • Face/Off dir. John Woo (1997)
  • Ghostbusters dir. Paul Feig (2016)
  • Black Mask dir. Daniel Lee (1996)
  • The Fog dir. Rupert Wainwright (2005)
  • R.I.P.D. dir. Robert Schwentke (2013)

  • Spider-Man: Homecoming dir. Jon Watts (2017)
  • The Mummy dir. Alex Kurtzman (2017)
  • My Cousin Rachel dir. Roger Michell (2017)
  • Baby Driver dir. Edgar Wright (2017)
  • War for the Planet of the Apes dir. Matt Reeves (2017)
  • The Beguiled dir. Sofia Coppola (2017)
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets dir. Luc Besson (2017)
  • Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me dir. David Lynch (1992)
  • Dunkirk dir. Christopher Nolan (2017)
  • The Diary of a Teenage Girl dir. Marielle Heller (2015)
  • Atomic Blonde dir. David Leitch (2017)
  • The Dark Tower dir. Nikolaj Arcel (2017)
  • The Little Hours dir. Jeff Baena (2017)
  • Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman dir. Curt Geda (2003)
  • Ingrid Goes West dir. Matt Spicer (2017)
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service dir. Matthew Vaughn (2014)
  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle

    dir. Matthew Vaughn (2017)

  • The Dino King dir. Han Sang-Ho (2012)
  • The Crucible dir. Nicholas Hytner (1996)
  • Blade Runner 2049 dir. Denis Villeneuve (2017)
  • Happy Death Day dir. Christopher B. Landon (2017)
  • The Foreigner dir. Martin Campbell (2017)
  • Black Christmas dir. Bob Clark (1974)
  • Thor: Ragnarok dir. Taika Waititi (2017)
  • Zodiac dir. David Fincher (2007)
  • Murder on the Orient Express dir. Kenneth Branagh (2017)
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy dir. Tomas Alfredson (2011)
  • The Imitation Game dir. Morten Tyldum (2014)
  • Train to Busan dir. Yeon Sang-ho (2016)
  • Okja dir. Bong Joon-ho (2017)
  • Nightcrawler dir. Dan Gilroy (2014)
  • Death Note dir. Adam Wingard (2017)
  • Inside Man dir. Spike Lee (2006)
  • Coco dir. Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina (2017)
  • First They Killed My Father dir. Angelina Jolie (2017)
  • The Shape of Water dir. Guillermo del Toro (2017)
  • Justice League dir. Zack Snyder (2017)
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi dir. Rian Johnson (2017)
  • Krampus dir. Michael Dougherty (2015)
  • The Croods dir. Kirk DeMicco, Chris Sanders (2013)
  • Home dir. Tim Johnson (2015)
  • Minions dir. Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda (2015)
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 dir. Dean DeBlois (2014)

TV Episodes

  • Goosebumps – “Night of the Living Dummy III” (1997)
  • Goosebumps – “Bride of the Living Dummy” (1998)
  • The Twilight Zone – “Miniature” (1963)
  • The Twilight Zone – “The Living Doll” (1963)
  • The Twilight Zone – “Mr. Motivation” (2002)
  • The Twilight Zone – “The Collection” (2003)
  • Tales from the Cryptkeeper – “Sharon Sharalike” (1999)
  • The Twilight Zone – “The Dummy” (1962)
  • The Twilight Zone – “Caesar and Me” (1964)
  • The Alfred Hitchcock Hour – “Where the Woodbine Twineth” (1965)
  • Tales from the Crypt – “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy” (1990)
  • Tales from the Crypt – “Strung Along” (1992)
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents – “The Glass Eye” (1957)
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents – “And So Died Riabouchinska” (1956)
  • Night Gallery – “Pamela’s Voice”, “Lone Survivor,” and “The Doll” (1971)
  • Night Gallery – “The Doll of Death” (1973)
  • Rick and Morty – “Pilot” (2013)
  • Rick and Morty – “Lawnmower Dog” (2013)

  • Rick and Morty – “Anatomy Park” (2013)

  • The Simpsons – “Simpsorama” (2014)
  • One Punch Man – “The Strongest Man” (2015)
  • The New Batman Adventures – “Cold Comfort” (1997)
  • The New Batman Adventures – “Love is a Croc” (1998)

  • The New Batman Adventures – “Torch Song” (1998)

  • The New Batman Adventures – “Judgment Day” (1999)

  • The Simpsons – “Treehouse of Horror XXVII” (2016)
  • The Simpsons – “Treehouse of Horror XXVIII” (2017)

  • Bob’s Burgers – “The Wolf of Wharf Street” (2017)
  • Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma  – “An Endless Wasteland” (2015)
  • Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma  – “God Tongue” (2015)

  • Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma  – "That Chef Never Smiles" (2015)

  • Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma  – "The Madonna of the Polar Star" (2015)

  • Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma  – "The Ice Queen and the Spring Storm" (2015)

  • Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma  – "The Meat Invader" (2015)

  • Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma  – "A Quiet Don, An Eloquent Don" (2015)

  • Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma  – "The Concerto of Inspiration and Imagination" (2015)

  • Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma  – "The Breading to Adorn the Mountains" (2015)

  • Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma  – "The Heavenly Recette" (2015)

TV Series

  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008-2009)
  • Sherlock – Series 4 (2017)
  • The Walking Dead – Season 7 (2016-2017)
  • Darkwing Duck (1991-1992)
  • American Gods (2017)
  • Twin Peaks – Season 2 (1990-1991)
  • Iron Fist (2017)
  • The Defenders (2017)
  • Fargo – Season 2 (2015)
  • Narcos – Season 3 (2017)
  • BoJack Horseman – Season 4 (2017)
  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – Season 11 (2016)
  • Mindhunter (2017)
  • The Punisher (2017)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season 4 (2016-2017)
  • American Horror Story – Seasons 1-7 (2011-2017)

Gina & Brynne

“This is bullshit, this right here. It’s melancholy sad-rad bullshit.”

Brynne kept talking and Gina listened to the sound of a toilet flushing upstairs. A real whoosh. They lived on the third and highest floor of an old building near Stanford and the walls were thin enough. It sounded like jumping into the pipes to freedom.

“And this,” said Brynne, gesturing to Gina, sitting on the ground, “this doesn’t help. You need to do something. We can go for a walk, we can take an Uber to the hills. We live in the best place, surrounded by everything we need. How can you be this way?”

The floorboards were polished and new, perfectly aligned, with no creaks or cracks to offend Brynne. He wouldn’t live in a place unless it was newly remodeled. When Gina rubbed her hand on a spot next to her, it felt cold, smooth, and slightly ribbed, for her pleasure, so she smiled.

“You don’t care about you, but I do,” said Brynne. “You think it’s funny that I care so much.”

She continued to look at the window. Its glass was streaked from weeks of alternating rain and dust deposits. That was how animals and people became preserved in the ground. Layers and layers, one after another, like a cake, or pages in a book. Each layer had something to say. The oldest, if they weren’t washed away, spoke volumes.

“God! I hate this shit. We’re adults and I feel like I’m a dad yelling at his kid.” Brynne walked away and slipped into his Nikes. “I can’t be here right now,” and he left.

The door was a heavy wood, perhaps old like the building, but sanded and polished like everything in the apartment. It thudded when he emphasized his exit. There was only one lock above the door handle and Brynne had the original key for it, given to them by the building manager. Gina had a spare key that they had made at the Home Depot. They were shopping for shelves.

She stood up and walked to the window. Brynne was waiting on the sidewalk, staring down at his phone. She lingered there and watched until a car appeared and took Brynne away.

Gina pulled a tin out of the drawer chest in her closet and rolled a spliff. The window opened to a quiet street where not much happened, except people, bikes, and cars passing, and she sat on the sill for a while. The bikes were her favorite part of the street. Many students passed and they were younger than her, but not by much, really. She would throw on her own Nikes and walk downstairs later in the morning, then walk down the way, past the quiet streets, by the RVs and vans parked on the road. Sometimes she chatted with people who lived in them, but not always, only if they wanted to talk and the air smelled friendly.

There is nothing at all like a man’s strong kiss: apologies to the women of Kentucky.

“What You Want to Do Fine” by Lorrie Moore