I grew up in a dull place. It would have been better if there was more desolation, shadowed cliffs or holes where I’d be walking walking walking and then—whoof!—everything gone. But no, I woke every morning to the same. Fell asleep, the same. I tried to liven things up a bit. I sewed hearts on my boobs and butt and hitchhiked everywhere: to school, to the glen, to Westport. It was disappointing that brushes with adventure seemed largely to feature men of uncertain moral standing and less certain hygiene. My parents were troublesome, but not troublesome enough. My friend’s parents got closer to the ideal. Sometimes one of the Porsches would end up parked mysteriously on the side of the highway; in the morning someone would need to go pick it up. Crossing the median. Laughing convulsively. Later: cocaine, bongs, and glitter-eyed women in Danskin wraps. So there was that. If no cars stopped for me, at some point the distance between where I’d been and where I wanted to go reached the tipping point, and I turned around and walked. Each step forward took me a tiny, tiny distance, the kind of distance you can’t even see from overhead. School was absurd, there was nothing to be found there, not in conversation with teachers, not in class, not by reading their books. I had a dream I was at a stressful country-collapsing-under-siege airport, blue button-down blouse, baby in my arms.
This excerpt appears with permission of FC2/University of Alabama Press. Copyright 2018 Aurelie Sheehan
Aurelie Sheehan is the winner of FC2’s 2018 Catherine L. Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize for Once into the Night, to be published in February 2019. She is the author of three previous short story collections and two novels. Her writing has appeared in Conjunctions, Mississippi Review, New England Review, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, and other journals. She teaches fiction at the University of Arizona.