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5 Stories

A Triple Leviathan

The woman’s cushions are done up with bunger and with Chottie’s plaid and she has never been so flashily stretched out in front of herself and Mr. and Mrs. Godwin are at the door.

Cordiality is curling out over her life. Today few people have the time, but this woman tells the Godwins with her tongue periodically extending. “I wish you every success in your endeavors.”

Few people have the time. It’s so hectic. The Godwins are served fatty goose parts and unmentionables from an animal who strolled, also Roumanian leaf tea, triple leviathans, and French knots.

“So, Anna, tell me,” the woman says, “Why do you leave so many nice things at my house?”

“What did we leave at your house?”

“I think it was you. I have a scalloped woolen scarf.”

“What does scalloped mean? It creates an optical delusion? It creates an optical illusion?”

“You never asked me about your scarf,” the woman says. “Isn’t this your scarf?”

“I missed my scarf,” Mrs. Godwin says. “I really missed my scarf. I am a woman who is very fortunate that this is my scarf.”


Even in the Germ

From the first, Huberta provides the spectacle of the sweetest life and I can see why I am so proud of her and of her miniature dachshund that always goes over and humps the cats after it’s had its dinner. Even her animal, with its vigor and with its shrewdness, as if this is a sexual encounter—is enduring an acquaintanceship. This Huberta, as if this is her real life, looks my way with a lollipop in her mouth, her zippered cardigan is open.

One Sunday I go back there, because I had been crying and saying I felt terrible and then I went over to Huberta’s.



The leading lady receives a silver ring and if she bears a child, she will get a golden ring, and if she bears a child she will get a golden one. In this culture, they do not bestow wedding rings. I think they are all much too busy for that.

In my own stair hall, I sit on my own seating furniture and you’d think I’d be too busy for that.

That staircase is blown up to a huge proportion. This picturesque sight and the notable features in the distance—the panorama on the northeastern side—eventually expand in scope and serve me and mine for the rest of our lives.


The Burr Myrtle Sideboard

I had brought my drink to life so marginally, toward a dark chestnut tint, when I poured milk into it, and here Howard’s hair is dyed blond and so is mine.

In a photograph, featuring me, on the sideboard, I wear my camel-hair coat in an atmosphere of extraordinary good luck.

For now, I had slipped down and hurt my head.

“Get up,” Howard said.

Hardly had I stood when I realized I had soared. I had a headache and found a remedy and then I found a sorrow and some ingenuity.


Hunting For Hairs

“Can you give me more money?” I said to Mother. “Can you give me more money?”

Mother said, “We’ll have a glass of champagne and then we’ll go around the corner and we will discuss this.”

My witness to this is on Mother’s secretaire. She is a painted statuette, a lady with a tiny head with my hairstyle on it, who I recognize as a friendly agent.

We drank champagne, ate veal sub gum at Don Mee’s and Mother’s money was not too hidden away to discuss, but this is an out-going topic, dropping now toward something other elsewhere.

She said, “Helga, let me ask you something. Do you have your gold watch?”

“Yes,” I said. “It’s very expensive. You gave it to me,” I said. “I rely on it.”

“Don’t touch it,” Mother said. Her marcel-haired head, her gray cardigan sweater, her richly crafted watch—she is virtually a mirror image of myself.

“What on earth is that?” Mother asked.

“Don’t eat it!” I said.

The server gave us a bewildered glance. She’d been running up and back from the kitchen swearing. She had a long neck. She wore a purple blouse. Her black hair was unwrinkled and bobbed. Her dark eyes, her shows, whatever else she had on—her short socks were uncrushed. She said, “Do you want more tea?”

I pointed to my mouth.

She was a young girl with hair-black eyes.

“Do you want some more tea?” she said. “Can I pour you more tea?”

I remember when I hurried toward the sea and started bawling. An amount of gold had gotten me out of my sour mood.

There’s a wind we can hear inside Don Mee’s and, my dear madam, the thunder. It rains a no-nonsense rain. The trees start to gather themselves up into bunches. The mountain tosses around. The humans, including me, say something.

I left our table at some point to greet Katy Mayapple who was eating the mango pudding.

She thanks me for my interest.

“Did you think I didn’t know?” I said. “Did you think I didn’t care?”

Katy’s face is gray and white and speckled. She still lives, but she limps. I took a taste of her dessert and then covered up my mouth with my bare hand. Katy kept very still, for I can take without tiring all matter of liquids and petrifactions of very many forms and materials. 


Diane Williams

Diane Williams's most recent book of fiction is Vicky Swanky is a Beauty. She is also the editor of the literary annual NOON.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2007

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