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The Door

Story by Michael Alessi (Read author interview) December 16, 2019

Art by Stacy Guinn

At a party she tells a friend, not a close one, about the time she shut the door on her finger during a phone call with her mother. She is amazed by the number of people who tell her, before she is finished, that they know what she means, or who otherwise cut her short to claim this sort of incident occurs to them seemingly every day, as this friend does. She relishes correcting the woman; when she shut the door on herself this time, it severed the tip above the cuticle. As proof, she dramatically offers the stub, which resembles the melted end of a candlestick. How did it hurt? The woman bends and blurts her silly question like a crane skewering a slow fish. How stupid that this was the only question others ever thought to ask. It frustrates her now, again, because it seems as though the only thing that interests them is the pain, or some approximation of it, or perhaps the mental relief that comes of knowing it might never befall them; that they can absorb her suffering secondhand at no risk to themselves. She knows now that she will never make this woman a true friend; this was the deciding test, and her question clinched it. The oblivious woman’s loss will only fortify the secrets of her story. Still, she wishes the woman would ask her why. Why had she chosen the bedroom door? Or what had her mother asked just before she wedged her ring finger between the hinge stile and stop. Or what was the name of the small thing that twitched inside her like a fish’s tail when she caught her breath and shoved the door shut.

About the Author

Michael Alessi is the author of The Horribles (Greying Ghost Press). His work has recently appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Mid-American Review, Paper Darts, and other journals. A native of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, he lives in Chicago. He likes you just fine.

About the Artist

Stacy Guinn is an Illinois-based photographer whose work explores the transience of life and the traces of emotion we leave behind in places, clothing, and forgotten possessions.

This story appeared in Issue Sixty-Six of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Sixty-Six

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