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Rebecca Curtis

November 4, 2012

It starts off kind of simply and normal, like just going to the bathroom at work. And there are some things you don’t understand immediately or ever, like the military. Next it starts getting subtly creepy. “As if blankets had been thrown over the tops of the pines, leaving only a faint light on the grass.” There’s this sort of automatic menace even though you don’t know anything, and everything’s being given this terse treatment, nothing stated, everything nuanced. And you don’t know what’s chasing the person but the person is suddenly afraid for no apparent reason and runs home.

There is this fairy-tale quality. Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks and the three pigs and the one about the shoe and other ones about men and women and growing up and growing old. Even at the moment of crisis there is something “detached, offhand” like it isn’t even happening or only happening in certain dimensions.

It isn’t strange that there are neither no clocks nor the absence of clocks. Clocks aren’t mentioned at all, not even to exclude them from existence, which is absolutely normal.

And then the wolf at the door and the girls inside and the wolf is a man and the girls don’t have a sexual quality. And then it gets normal again or ordinary, but not. Just some people asking the girls for their phone number so they can leave a message. “We just want to leave you a message.” And the trick that is played and everything is fine and this is said:

“I told her about a dream I’d had the previous night… one in which I lived alone, performed a boring job, and led a desolate life — she said, ‘Your dreams are not interesting. In other circumstances, they might be, but here we deal every day with matters of life and death.'”

It returns to that state at the brink of being ominous.

Next week’s story is “Minor Robberies” by Deb Olin Unferth


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