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New Yorker Story About Michigan

Story by Carolyn Nims (Read author interview) December 18, 2017

Art by Anders Jildén

Michigan is rough. Michigan is dirty. Michigan is real. Thus by default, the people of Michigan are rough and dirty and real. There are four of them in this car speeding toward the Mackinac Bridge. They have been driving most of the day. The young man at the wheel is shrill, unintelligible. He has one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the thigh of the skuzzy blonde in the passenger seat. Her nose is bleeding, but she doesn’t notice. In the backseat, another young man is cradling yet another young man in his lap because the latter has been shot in the gut. The shop clerk had a rifle. They weren’t expecting that. Now this man is dying, but the couple in the front seat don’t give a shit because they are high as fuck and in love. Just last night, the four in the car shared a motel room, and the two young men listened to the couple making love. The two other men pretended to sleep but couldn’t stop their aural voyeurism. But they didn’t give a fuck, really. But now this one in the backseat is shot, and they have to do something about it but can’t go to a hospital. The shrill young man at the wheel knows someone in the UP, a retired veterinarian, so he says. He used to get pills from the guy. The car is careening, and the couple still don’t seem to care. The man is dying in the other man’s lap. The man who is dying is weeping. The man holding his head tries to pour some whiskey on the bullet wound but spills it on himself. They aren’t ever really in it for the money, even though they need the money. It’s just you build up a tolerance for life and have to hurt other life in order to feel your own life again because feeling the hurt of life reconnects the frayed ends of your life’s sympathies, and your life takes breath again and asks where it is. It’s in Michigan.

About the Author

Carolyn Nims recently received her MFA from Western Michigan University. You can find her poetry and fiction in The Hilltop Review and The Corner Club Press. She lives and works in Columbus, Ohio.

About the Artist

Find more work by Anders Jildén at Unsplash.

This story appeared in Issue Fifty-Eight of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Fifty-Eight
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Next Date to Join: January 1!

On September 1, SmokeLong launched a workshop environment/community christened SmokeLong Fitness. This asynchronous community workshop is happening right now on our dedicated workshop site. If you choose to join us, you will work in a small group of around 10-12 participants to give and receive feedback. Each Monday, you will receive a new writing task (one writing task each week) designed by the senior editor team of SmokeLong. The core workshop is asynchronous, so you can take part from anywhere at anytime. We are excited about creating a supportive, consistent and structured environment for flash writers to work on their craft in a community.