[first appeared in Parcel]
by Sarah Malone
By August I could only sleep at steep angles, midday, when the town dozed off for blocks. The window fan helicoptered me to a grass hut, and reporters in flak jackets filed the evening news from the high school lab where Dennis and I had met. Our teacher bent over me, horn-rimmed, tortoise-shelled, and I didn’t know what I had done.
In the morning when Dennis woke beside me I had been knotted awake for hours. Buses creaked toward Schenectady and the triplicate perfume of invoices he’d said I never had to fingernail apart again. None of the names we liked—Lisa, Peter, Jennifer, Michael, Paul, Christine—belonged to anyone.
“How about Chet?” Dennis called from the kitchen. I heard him: verse, refrain, bridge, proud Mary keep on boiling—boiling. He peered around the doorframe, his moustache a drooped grin.
“You goose,” I said.
“I’m singing you the perfect egg.”
[a bit of this story’s evolution]