I want, for instance, to be a different person. I want to be the woman who brings these two books back in two weeks. I want to be the effective citizen who changes the school system and addresses the Board of Estimate on the troubles of this dear urban center.
Listen to me. I’m just a baker. I don’t claim to be anything else. Maybe once, maybe years ago, I was a different kind of human being. I’ve forgotten, I don’t know for sure. But I’m not any longer, if I ever was. Now I’m just a baker. That don’t excuse my doing what I did, I know.
For example, I didn’t know that she thought I was a bad kisser:
“Your kisses are unpleasantly moist,” she says. “Has anyone ever told you that?”
“Actually, no,” I say. “I’ve always gotten compliments on my kisses.”
“Well,” she says. “Women very rarely tell the truth.”
I smile at her. “You’re lying,” I say, cleverly. But she doesn’t seem to catch the interesting paradox. She looks at me blankly and downs the last bit of wine in her glass.
Click here to read Shepherdess by Dan Chaon.
«Ha! Ha! Forgive me. I must laugh now.»
And she flung herself upon a polar-bear skin in a paroxysm of giant mirth.
Utterly crushed, I went out to do myself in. Racking my brain for the most expressive method, I suddenly remembered a man called Harringay, a taxidermist who was often at her cocktail parties, where he had eyed me with a friendly interest.
I went to his shop. He was there alone.
«Harringay! Stuff me!»
«Sure. What shall it be? Steak? Chop suey? Something fancy?»
«No, Harringay, bitumen. Harringay, I want you to employ your art upon me. Send me to Miss Bjornstjorm with my compliments. For her collection. I love her.»
Click this to Read Squirrels Have Bright Eyes by John Collier.
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The Best of Everything.
read by the author Richard Yates.