portion of the artwork for Lydia Copeland Gwyn's story

Lydia Copeland Gwyn

One morning we didn’t open the curtains, and all the windowsill plants stayed in their night-time place on top of the bookcase. We didn’t want to see the slums. We lived there, without grocery stores or proper garbage collection, and we were sick of looking at it. From the bathroom I could hear my husband curse and I knew I’d left the bathroom cabinet open again and he’d hit his head. It was one of the things I could never remember to do, just as he could never remember to sleep under the comforter so I wouldn’t have to tug it from beneath him in the middle of the night. This was when I was getting letters from Luxembourg a few times a month. I’d signed up for a pen pal service and before long a man who didn’t use his real name was asking me to take pictures of my breasts and send them to him. Sometimes he requested my worn undergarments. I felt bad for him because he’d written in the first letter that he was only four feet and eight inches tall and said that was the tallest he would ever be. I felt bad for me because I’d used my real name. My husband said we should just ignore the man, so I never responded. But the letters kept coming and after a while we started looking forward to them. We enjoyed sitting up in bed at night and reading them to each other. Sometimes I pretended my husband was requesting the things in the letters and sometimes he pretended he was requesting them as well and we’d end up switching clothes or taking out the digital camera and snapping away. The morning of the closed curtains was the same day the airport was rerouting planes over our apartment. They were low-flying passenger planes, and we could feel the zing of the engines in places of the body that weren’t meant to rattle so. It felt like dinosaurs were walking around outside. We turned the lights out and imagined a different town, a smaller town with strip malls and old textile mills and a coastline that we could drive to. My husband went on about the type of yard we’d have and what we’d plant there. I knew we’d be here awhile, but I liked to hear him say the words.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 46 | Fall 2015