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Things We'll Need for the Coming Difficulties 

Winner of the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction


“Your cheeks look funny.”

“You’re not pregnant, are you?”


“I’m fond of shadows, aren’t you?”


I really should move, I thought, nearly every time we spoke. It wasn’t as if moving would be a protracted ordeal. I had so few things I wouldn’t even need to label my boxes. Yet I couldn’t summon any real energy around the idea. The savory aroma of Jorie’s ever-simmering vegetable broth made me feel lethargic. Although the second I had that thought—the crazy broth thought—I realized it was something she would say, which made me want to run screaming into the street.


Yet my flat in Jorie’s small house was nicer than the average apartment and I paid lower than average rent and she allowed pets. I lived more or less paycheck to paycheck, making my student loan payments but falling further and further behind on the credit card bills that had eventually found their way back to me. Jorie hadn’t checked my credit or required a deposit.

“You’ve been such a loyal tenant,” Jorie said, daring me to contradict. My lease would expire in a month.

What's New or Not Yet Old?



  • Michael Martone selected "The Ophelia Project" for inclusion in New Stories from the Midwest 2020, forthcoming from New American Press. 

from "The Dotted Line"
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