Pif Magazine, an online journal I quite admire has published my story “Blacklights.”
Here’s the opening:
“I don’t like Doug’s new girlfriend at all,” Earl confessed.
His wife Grace lowered the oven’s jaw and extracted a roasting pan of steaming sweet potatoes with mitted hands. “We don’t even know her,” she said, sighing effortfully as she released the pan onto the stove with a clang.
Earl stared into the hot black metallic maw and felt unsettled. He swirled a glass of red as his wife dried her brow with a forearm.
“Would you like some help?” he said.
“I’m done.” Grace scooped potatoes onto a serving dish. “So what don’t you like about her?”
“She talks too much.”
Several weeks ago, Earl, Grace, Doug, and Laura had taken a short walk in the park, and Earl’s ears still rang from Laura’s nattering. Oh, how hard her dance performances were! Oh, what a grind, those commercial auditions! Earl and Doug had been best friends since grade school. They had gone to college and business school together, and even ran a startup for three years before selling it to a public company. Of all of Doug’s girlfriends (and there had been many), Laura was the most irritating. Earl tried to commit to memory what she looked like. Blue eyes, blonde, not from a bottle.
“Has to say every feeling that comes to her head,” Earl added.
“You don’t talk about your feelings at all,” Grace said.
Her back was turned to him. She was washing the cutting board in the sink. The way her elbows churned, Grace looked like she could have been strangling someone. Was she still upset at his cold reaction to her recently expressed desire to have children? Grace accused him of flip-flopping. Sure, he’d previously claimed to love kids. But was he being unreasonable to say that they were too expensive? She was a city social worker! Sure, they had a decent nest egg after selling the company. But none of Doug and Earl’s latest ideas had taken off yet. What if none of them would? How would they manage then? No one liked to admit that having children could be an irreversible, life-altering mistake.
Grace emptied the sink and began to scrub it. She was growing her hair long again. He liked her hair long, so hearty, so dark—smelled of black figs. His sweet Grace. Earl wrapped an arm around her waist. They could overcome anything.
“Some feelings need not be said,” he said, sliding his hand down to her backside.
Grace moved away. “For God’s sake, Earl! Set the table.”
Read the rest of the story here: