SmokeLong Quarterly

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Why This Isn’t a Good Story to Tell

Story by Shellie Zacharia (Read author interview) June 15, 2008

Art by Robinson Accola

See, you ask me what’s going on, and I know you mean, tell me something good, but not much is going on. No stories to tell. Not one you’d want to hear, unless you count what happened two days ago and that’s not really a story.

It’s just about this old woman at the grocery store and how she couldn’t reach the peanut butter because it was stocked on the top shelf. So while I was standing there picking out strawberry jam, I said, “Let me help you,” and I asked her, “What kind do you want?” and she said, “Peter Pan, smooth, please.” After I handed her the peanut butter, she said, “You’re a little pretty and very nice.” Then she said, “Hold on,” and she reached for her purse, this beat up white leather bag sitting in the shopping cart. She took out her wallet and her hands were shaking and I said, “Oh no,” thinking she was going to offer me money, but instead she handed me a business card and said, “This is my grandson. He’s a nice boy. You should call him; he’s lonely.”

I looked and saw he had a nice boy name and he was a travel agent and he had a work phone and a cell phone and I said, “Thanks,” and put the business card in my own purse, which was just a little straw bag because it was summertime. And since I’d had it with mean boys, it seemed a good thing to do, to call a nice boy, and after two glasses of wine that evening, I called the old woman’s grandson. When I said who I was and how I got his number, he was quiet. I felt stupid but then I felt even worse because he finally said, “I’m sorry. My grandmother isn’t always well. I’m married. She forgets.” Then he laughed and said, “Or maybe she does remember and doesn’t like Jane anymore,” and I heard him say, “Ouch!” like his wife Jane must have smacked him on the back of the head.

I apologized and hung up and drank another glass of wine because he did sound like a nice boy. And I went to bed and it was another night like so many of my nights.

So you see, it’s not really a good story, not the kind you want to hear. No romance or adventure or mystery.

The guy didn’t call back and say, “Forget about Jane, let’s meet for dinner.”

He didn’t call back and say, “I’m actually from another galaxy and I want to create a new type of being with you. I promise you’ll really enjoy it.”

He didn’t call back and say that he would love to make something happen between us, but he was very busy because he was either a rock star, a spy, a pirate, or a guy about to go on a cross country journey to find out some great truth.

He was just a nice guy and he was married and he even thanked me for helping his grandmother.

He didn’t call back.

End of story.

About the Author

Shellie Zacharia lives in Gainesville, Florida. Her stories have appeared in Hobart, Opium, Backwards City Review, Potomac Review, Inkwell, Washington Square, The Pinch, and elsewhere.

About the Artist

Robinson Accola creates artwork for SmokeLong Quarterly as needed.

This story appeared in Issue Twenty-One of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty-One

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