Short Fiction By: Sean Kilpatrick

This week's new writing is delivered to you — via Detroit — in the form of short fiction by author and poet Sean Kilpatrick


Her name barely encored. It seemed like unintentionally divulged information, clandestine and presidential, as if someone had earned their hernia a reputation. I’m going to give you some worse moles if you step near me, the librarian was evermore forced to whisper. She kept restrainedly thin to better hurt people’s feelings. I don’t enjoy standing up for myself. I just want to inflict pain at the grainiest portent of legal provocation. You gotta have the perspective to explode. I’m like one of these people that take their hemorrhoid to show and tell. Get a bigger car because of it. She admired the authenticity of her badass friends escaping to motherhood from the Charley horse of a hotly partied-out life. It made her want to etch out her clit. People would leave you alone, but first you had to provide them a semblance, even if it was just another cloned you.

Her husband lived like a teenaged ghost with parents too overly kind to prolong the suicide he tried for for ten years, and she couldn’t take the expectation that he might continue putting it off a moment longer because of feelings she had let him accrue. She dreamt a series of accountants were nudging her. The dread someone else’s pleasure can crank into your sleep. You wake up trying to find out where you should be and afraid of ever arriving there. She requested that he wait himself out pensively until a session was okayed, then ignored him, sleeping nude. As long as the men who doted on her couldn’t get off. As long as if she got off it was with those who didn’t care. Sex made her feel like a victim, and she shut down during, in subtly alarming ways. Her eyes would film over. She had a robot pose mid-coitus that the more sensitive geeks she courted would try to talk her out of. Men she left ran a lighter over her stockings so the smell would return. She was beautiful to the extent that they did what she asked without her having to manipulate her face into a practiced kindness. They escorted her their confidence until she didn’t need her own. She had scars. She didn’t need confidence.

She lied the amount a wife had to, surrounding her husband with people she had had affairs or tension with to see how someone already antisocial could further wilt. She did that so many times he only spoke once a day. He fawned over her whenever the anger at being relatively dismissed subsided. He wanted her to feel worshipped, to guide them higher in compliance with the pedestal. She was not interested in his take on her, or her greatness, or their contaminate potential. She simply wanted to be hosted by various lesser partially-interested parties. It was revenge because she felt upstaged by his hatreds.

They took their simple predilections for each other’s racket outside and stepped all over everything possibly sacred about that, with creels of insect gossip. They inflicted generosities block by block to uphold the ice-thin pretense no one would get pillaged. They couldn’t somehow build themselves into this immaculate representation of a type of human that had and will never exist. The citizen you scratched out your eyes to be.

Whites liked blanketing separate from their ability to brag about danger.Their money reeked of the instantly obsolete items that would crowbar them from it. They liked to be nearly disassembled enough to keep living. There was a modicum of relevance they could overdo now that their handheld electronics were without batteries. Another man’s wife might gently tap her shoulder as if to request directions from the adultery.

The only people he had reluctantly spent time with were raucous in a store-bought way. They ruled over his abnormality throughout high school with a combined sense of their boisterous selves and a disguised adherence to the common. In time, he was left behind, confused by their typical adult lives because they had been the poor sole examples of anyone halfway smart or charming around him. The women were loud, openly mocked him, repeated his name like a basic treachery, cheated on their pretentiously devoted boyfriends, took that contagion to his first girl, who thought being free-spirited meant different boys. Their shitty attitudes, condescending assistance, and unexplainable backstabbery had covertly fucked his life. What angered him most was, even in domesticity, they still upheld the fantasy of their own uniqueness. They imagined themselves capable of art within such colonized lives. He didn’t consider anyone a sellout. He was aware there was no escaping money. He just didn’t think they should be so insultingly proud of who they were and so readily ashamed for him. He had never experienced pride. How could he, knowing mostly them? But what community would have cured how he felt since birth? It goes wrong no matter who. Trapped in that former circle, when he found his wife, she was the first brilliant person he’d met. Talented, witty, of a higher class, sharp and mean in a spot on way, only when called for, not to assert herself needlessly or to dominate a room, quiet, someone like him, less redundantly in charge, not perpetually screaming her first thought as a gift to her constituents like every female he’d met before, not the same nasty, amateur Hannibal Lecter everyone with an ounce of intelligence practiced being in a faux cosmopolitan light, but a real and humble getter of it, and this angel, finally, because of him, of course, in the long run, was indifferent. His wife had been around so many types she informed him his childhood friends were of an unsubstantiated variance, but he had already given up thinking anyone was worth attention, besides her. He was addicted to the sugar in her waste. She was driven by that to seek others. It was in her magnificent character to seek out variables and he resented her for it. She couldn’t remain good to him from such a height. He would fill the gap between them with violence. First against himself, against the idea of her in himself, now in wonder against the populace. The crimes they’d do were lettered in the sky.

Sean Kilpatrick lives in Detroit and is published or forthcoming in Boston Review, New York Tyrant, BOMB, Columbia Poetry Review, Fence, evergreen review, Sleepingfish, Hobart, and Best American Essays 2014 notable. Anatomy Courses (2012) was co-written with Blake Butler.

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