SmokeLong Quarterly

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To Hold But Not Have

Story by Jenny Magee Stenger (Read author interview) October 12, 2015

Art by Georgia Bellas

The unannounced plummet of her heart that day in Galway when she saw newlyweds taking a victory lap around the town, dragging tin cans behind their chauffeured car. The sedan was a vintage Buick-looking thing: curvy with chrome details arcing down its powder-blue body like eyeliner. Her tears dripped in time with the cans’ rat-a-tat-tat-tat.

This is how it’ll be, he told her that day they’d gotten high on ecstasy. I’m going to let you go and you’re going to come back to me. She’d run shoeless on the deserted beach for hours, without him, until deciding to double back. He held her, putting his ear to her heart, afraid he’d given her too strong a dose. Years later, she can still feel his cheekbone on her breast. She never felt more loved.

She counted the women she knew about, but there was no figuring the variable for the others. Glass webbed like cheap fishnets when she jammed her foot into his car’s windshield. Made her think of ice-skating.

Three thousand miles away. What do you do with old dreams? Her friend snapped his fingers. Old dreams.

The frayed Mexican sunflowers he gave her mother still grow in the family garden. Perennials. When she returns for her brother’s wedding, she picks the golden blooms, not knowing they came from his seed. She listens all day for his car, haunted by the rush of wind when he drives past her house, never stopping.


Notes from Guest Reader Bezalel Stern

So beautiful. Does so much with so little. I love it.

About the Author

Over the years, Jenny Magee Stenger has made a living as a writer, baker, farmer, waitress, and bookseller. She lives with her family in New Haven, Connecticut.

About the Artist

Georgia Bellas is a writer, artist, filmmaker, and the Fiction Features Editor at Atticus Review. Her work appears in Cheap Pop (upcoming), Split Lip Magazine, People Holding, Synaesthesia, Sundog Lit, Cartridge Lit, WhiskeyPaper, The Collapsar, and [PANK], among other journals, and is also included in Sundress Publications’ 2014 Best of the Net Anthology. You can follow her teddy bear, host of the weekly Internet radio show “Mr. Bear’s Violet Hour Saloon,” on Twitter @MrBearStumpy.

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

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