This Great Society - Writing


Illustration: Mark Gunderson

Joel Bentley: Well Sure, I Could Always Use Another Lawn Chair
Illustration: Mark Gunderson


Signs of Spring

Mary leads her kindergarteners across the street to the park.
           Look children! There are signs of spring everywhere. Look at the blooming cherry blossoms! The children rustle in excitement, sounding out a collective awe, a few of them even clapping.
           Mary knows these aren’t the only signs of spring. Soon bedridden couples will emerge from their little homes, climbing up trees to copulate in the branches. Listen! Can you hear the birds? She aches, hearing the squeaks and cries of pleasure. And look! A nest! In her desperation she squints, trying to keep herself from picturing those tangled limbs. It’s no use.
           Yes children, there are signs of spring everywhere.


Marks for Creativity

Scott wonders if he should tell Tessa about the dreams he’s been having about her. Will she look at him the same way with those chickadee eyes? Will she remain courageous when he sends her twirling through the air? Will she land with the same grace and ease she does now? He worries about the doubt it may cause, a pause of indecision in her stride, but he decides that yes, she should know.
           Tess, I should warn you, he begins. It involves a swan.


Small Men

Guernica carries her ex-lovers around with her in her purse. She keeps them both as a reminder of love lost and of what could have been. In melancholic moments she takes them out one by one, stroking their hair and reminiscing about that dinner at Verona’s. When she’s not forcing them to watch reruns of Sex and the City—which they endure with the resolve of dental patients—or parading them in front of her boyfriend during arguments, they pass the time knitting toques for her lipstick and eyeliner.
           Most of them don’t say much, with their sighs and tired eyes, but Jim is different. Jim with his square jaw, dimpled chin, and husky voice. Jim is from Alaska and laughs at all of her jokes. While most of her ex-lovers range from five-and-a-half to six inches tall, Jim is seven inches. Seven inches! Her boyfriend bemoans the fact, but she won’t stop talking about him. Oh Jim, she sighs, remembering those long nights on the pier. Those were the days.
           As night draws a curtain over the fading sky, the ex-lovers grow tired and weary. Ambling back into her purse, they make pillows of cotton pads and tuck themselves in for the night.
           Purses, such marvelous things.



Though she knows she shouldn’t, Mary counts the days since their last conversation. Thirty-six, she says out loud. It’s been thirty-six days. The silence between them has taken on a physical texture. She can describe it: like a house filled with water. She’s been sloshing about, her clothes clinging and dragging. He still hasn’t called. There are guidelines for these things, rules she should follow. But how soon is too soon to call? What about forty? It has a nice Biblical quality to it. She could open the conversation with a joke about it, a hilarious Biblical reference. Yes yes, that’s the way. She can hear it now—his voice echoing through water, evaporating the silence with laughter.                


This Great Society - Contents


This Great Society - Contents