Smoking With Rebekah Matthews

by Ashley Inguanta Read the Story March 26, 2012

What inspired you to write this story? How did this story grow
over time?

When I wrote this story, I had been thinking about two things—one, the idea that experiences between women don’t always exist in a vacuum. Most of the time I write about women interacting with other women and it usually doesn’t have anything to do with men, even indirectly. But I was wondering, what if something a man (or men) did to a woman affected the way this woman then interacted with another woman? What would that look like in a story of mine? The other thing I was thinking about was how much people share of themselves with their lovers, if disclosure matters, or not. Over time the biggest change was that I didn’t know what had happened to Ruth, and it took me a while to figure that out.

There’s a thread of pain here—of physical pain that comes out of the feeling, the connection between the narrator and Ruth. Tell me more about the root of this pain, this connection.

So Ruth and the narrator technically experience the exact same kinds of pain. The way these boys had tortured Ruth when she was little, Ruth does that to the narrator. But it’s obviously different, because Ruth was a child, she was alone, and she didn’t have a choice; the narrator is an adult, and likes Ruth, and has a choice—and she wants it. And she isn’t alone when she experiences it, because Ruth is with her. I think Ruth was trying to share something with the narrator—like telling her a secret without really explaining.

“We prayed together on our knees like when had we were young.” What did Ruth pray for? The narrator? Tell me about what they were thinking in this moment.

I’m guessing the narrator prayed to God asking that she would get to have sex with Ruth! She was sort of one-dimensional that way. As for Ruth… she’s a mystery to me. Maybe she was hoping for some kind of calm, maybe to go back in time with the narrator.

If you could say one thing to your narrator, what would it be? To Ruth?

My initial response is to want to tell the narrator she’s being a dumbass, and she needs to get more of a backbone. She reminds me a lot of a version of myself when I was in my early 20s. She really tries to meet Ruth wherever Ruth wants to meet, and everything is on Ruth’s terms, and the narrator is like, “Okay! Sure! Whatever you want!” And I kind of hate that, but I respect it, too. So I guess I would tell her she’s annoying and I’m proud of her. And I would probably tell Ruth to get some therapy.

About the Author:

Rebekah Matthews lives in Boston, enjoys a good Yellow Tail merlot, and dressed up as Xena Warrior Princess for Halloween. Her stories have appeared in such publications as Storyglossia, Necessary Fiction, and decomP. In 2010 and in 2011 she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. More information about her writing can be found at rebekahmatthews.com.

About the Interviewer:

Ashley Inguanta is a Florida-based writer and photographer whose work has appeared in Redivider, PANK, and The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review. She is also the Art Director of SmokeLong Quarterly. In 2010, Ashley’s story “The Heart of America” earned an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train for their Very Short Fiction Award. Last year, The Ampersand Review nominated her poem “San Andreas Fault” for the Pushcart Prize. Ashley is also the author of three collections of poetry: The Way Home (Dancing Girl Press), For the Woman Alone (Ampersand Books), and Bomb (forthcoming with Ampersand Books). Keep up to date with her travels, readings, and publications here: www.ashleyinguanta.com