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The Good Woman

Story by Sara Levine (Read author interview) December 23, 2010

art by Gay Degani

I had two coats and I mostly wore one, so I took the other to the Salvation Army and gave it away, which felt good. I didn’t miss it. Next day when I was cooking, I noticed the pantry was filled with stuff we never ate—cans of beans, corn, and chili—so I took those to the food bank. That felt even better. Then because I had three chairs and it’s only ever me and D who sit at the kitchen table, I took the wobbly-legged chair to the Salvation Army, but as soon as it was done, I felt terrible, so the next day, to set things right, I took a good chair to the Salvation Army. Then D and I took turns sitting in the remaining chair, and I looked around and realized we had dishes, too, that we hardly ever used, so I packed up a box for the Salvation Army too. Next I culled through the books, and the music, and the small appliances, which gave me a satisfaction mingled with relief that I already had things that other people needed. I was just thinking how easy it was to make other people’s lives better by, for example, giving away your cheese slicer, when D came home with a cylinder of raw sheep’s milk cheese made with cardoon thistle from the historic city of Evora, north of Alentejo. “Slice the cheese with a knife,” I said. “I don’t want to slice it with a knife; I have a slicer for the purpose.” “Don’t be fussy,” I said, “it works just as well with a knife,” and I was about to show him when D grabbed the knife out of my handhis copy of Dune, he yelled, his popcorn maker, the humidifier, and now the cheese slicer, too? I jumped onto the kitchen chair and said, “Have you lost your mind? Are you threatening me over a fucking cheese slicer?” at which point D put down the knife and wept, having scared himself a little. “It’s okay,” I said. “Is it okay?” he asked. “Yes, it’s okay. You didn’t hurt me,” I said, but still I was shaken. The rest of that night we didn’t talk, and not the next day either, and the following night I waited until he was asleep, and then I put D in a box and took him to the Salvation Army, too.

About the Author

Sara Levine’s fiction has appeared in American Short Fiction, Nerve, The Iowa Review, Conjunctions, Fairy Tale Review, and many other magazines. Her essays have been anthologized in Best of Fence and The Touchstone Anthology of Creative Nonfiction: 1970 to the Present.

About the Artist

Gay Degani has been nominated here and there for Pushcart consideration, Best Small Fictions, and a few various and sundry honors including the 11th Glass Woman Prize. She is the author of a full-length collection of short stories, Rattle of Want (Pure Slush Press, 2015) and a suspense novel, What Came Before (Truth Serum Press, 2016). Her micro “Abbreviated Glossary” appears in the anthology New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fictionedited by James Thomas and Robert Scotellaro. She occasionally blogs at Words in Placeand is currently working on another novel of suspense.

This story appeared in Issue Thirty of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Thirty

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