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SmokeLong Quarterly

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The Part You Throw Away

Story by Erin Lyndal Martin (Read author interview) September 23, 2014

art by Mathew Schwartz

He never wrote her, not a single letter, not even after all the evenings they shared by the coast, one of them always bathed in the orange light on the window seat. What bothered her more was that she only dreamed about him once after that, a visceral dream she dreamed back in her own bed, in her own country. In the dream, the two of them were on a train, and he suddenly disappeared, so she kept turning around and around, just slowly enough not to get dizzy. He must have gotten off the train without her, she realized, and resigned herself to standing still while she counted off the stops until her own. When she picked up her bag and disembarked, he was suddenly there. “Is it too late?” he asked. “I didnt think it could ever be too late,” he answered. This dream, like something that old palm reader had told her when she was fourteen, stayed with her. Sometimes she was sure the dream was really him talking and sometimes not, so she decided to write him just one more time. Late one night in her schools music building when the arpeggios from the practice rooms had grown increasingly faint, she drew her knees to her chest and began the letter. She did not mention the dream about the train and how she had taken it as a promise from him. She did not mention how, after their week together, she wanted them to go to a gambling parlor because she was leaving the next day and gambling was ultimately what they were doing, wasnt it? She tried to remember all the stories he had told: Japan was lonely. His birth father was a bad man. Once he took a summer job building boats and could hear the ocean crash against the walls of his little cottage, which was always cold. And though he didnt live there anymore, she imagined him unfolding her letters there, reading everything she had omitted in ink, knowing he would never write her back.

About the Author

Erin Lyndal Martin’s poetry, fiction, nonfiction and arts journalism has appeared widely.

About the Artist

More of Mathew Schwartz‘s work can be found on unsplash.

This story appeared in Issue Forty-Five of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty-Five
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