“Somewhere someone is traveling furiously toward you,”
–John Ashbery, At North Farm
Perhaps he, too, remembers that rainy July late afternoon when the wet wind blew in warm, verdant air, smelling of green and lightning, when we sat on his messy bed wrapped in his unwashed sheets. We were a couple then. A quiet song by his then-favorite musicians — a small-town, small label band — cried out of his speakers, its sadness both attractive and terrifying. Young, rebellious, searching, smart — so very smart — going places, bright kids creeping through college, nearing a future, so idealistic, and afraid, and unknowing.
Unknowing of the choices, the options!
I would learn: not everyone becomes a teacher to have something to fall back on. Some people don’t feel bad about not going to Mass. There are some, sometimes many, who don’t marry or own property or hold a reputable job in their twenties, in their thirties even, who instead travel and study and share apartments with friends and sleep around, without apology.
That I can eat ice cream for dinner and no one will stop me.
And there are other bright, interesting people — many, and there would be one in particular — and there are other possible lives.
Years later, in a heated argument over school or work or money or dinner (who remembers now?), he once said he didn’t even know me.
He was right.
(He also noted that I put on weight, and that was wrong — wrong to note, anyway. Did he notice the ice cream I ate for dinner?)
Years later, I shouldn’t have read his journal, but I did. And I found all those longings that didn’t involve me, and then I went on to write myself out his life.
We were very young.
On that rainy July afternoon, that gray room filled with the smell of rain, behind those wispy curtains, beyond the shingled roofs of the small bungalows that lined that straight north-south street, lurked the end of easy ideas about love and sex and each other. Our future moved furiously toward us on the heels of the July storm clouds that covered our small prairie town. At that moment, we peacefully clung to each other, unaware; I thought the rain might last forever.
Perhaps he, too, remembers it this way.
Juror comments: Novelist Jon Fasman, the miniStories reader who selected Kris Woll’s story, Furious, as a 2009 mnLIT winner says, “Really lovely interiority here — not easy to do in such a small space. The author showed some real insight here.”
About the author: Kris Woll has lived and worked in New England, New York City, and now Minneapolis since leaving her southwest Minnesota prairie hometown. She has a MA in history, and is interested in how we remember and make meaning of the past we’ve lived and inherited. She writes creative nonfiction, short prose, a poem here and there, and frequent messy journal entries.
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