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My Escapee

My Escapee: Stories

Corinna Vallianatos
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    My Escapee
    Book Description:

    Delicate and assured, the stories in My Escapee illuminate unseen forces in women’s lives: the shameful thought, the stifled hope, the subterranean stresses of marriage, friendship, and family. Grappling with lost memories, escaped time, the longing to be loved, and the instinct for autonomy, the stories peer inside their characters’ minds to their benign delusions, their triumphs and defeats. A girl taking a test for admittance to a selective school finds that what she loves most of all is the ordinary. A lonely young woman, sick of being sick, swaps places with her nurse. A college student deploys her more charming roommate to discover the secret rituals of an allmale club on campus. And in the title story, a woman in a nursing home receives mysterious missives from her longtime lover recalling fragments of their old life together.

    eISBN: 978-1-61376-275-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. My Escapee
    (pp. 1-18)

    I do not know where Margaret is. She sends me a brochure describing a cruise to the Galapagos, on the back of which she’s written,Shall we pack?But I can’t travel anymore. I have caretakers. In my eighty-eight years, I have never been with a man.

    When we were young, Margaret and I flew in a small airplane over the red mountains of Afghanistan. She had red hair then, too. It sprang rowdily from her leather helmet. We didn’t need men, we had our permeable selves. The humped mountains were as intimate as a tangled blanket on a bed....

  4. Posthumous Fragments of Veronica Penn
    (pp. 19-39)

    2007. Even now, she could summon the moment that she met her husband, though she didn’t often want to. No, she liked to daydream about another young man, whom she could still see—it was uncanny how crisply—walking toward her, his face full of what she’d thought was confidence but later recognized as the irreverent beginnings of love. Saying, “I really should know your name.” Veronica, she’d answered, and never had it fit her so well. This was at Grinnell. She remembered the greedy way he kissed and how, after the first time they had sex, he was suddenly hard...

  5. Examination
    (pp. 40-52)

    Anna passes her parents’ bedroom and sees through the cracked door her mother standing in her underwear in front of a full-length mirror. Her mother raises her arms over her head and releases a blue bundle that tumbles down her body and becomes a dress. She adjusts its fit across her hips, zips its back zipper with a quick contortion and bunching up of material at the neck. She purses her lips to apply lipstick. It seems her mother’s not really looking at herself, but at the pieces of herself she’s assembling. The light in the room is slow, museum-like....

  6. Sink Home
    (pp. 53-74)

    The first time Mira sees Hugh, he is trying to thread his body through an unstrung tennis racket. She’s on one side of a crowded room and he’s on the other, but there is a little gap in the crush of people and she watches him twisting his compact body sideways, hoisting up his pants leg, and stretching out a bare foot.

    They’re at a party hosted by a Brazilian named Flavio. Flavio is her husband’s friend, but her husband is at home with the flu. This evening she has learned that there are certain people around whom she should...

  7. Salvo
    (pp. 75-93)

    Leah and Ian were hunting for garbage. Leah was getting bored. “Show a little skin!” she shouted at the men loading onto buses in the outdoor plaza of Tucson’s Greyhound station. The men had wily, rash-red faces, and shuffled forward in jerks as if pursued by the jabbing handle of a rake. Heads turned in her direction. A man carrying a wooden dowel with a newspaper draped over it didn’t look away. He mounted the bus steps backward. Leah imagined he thought he was staring down a wild animal.

    Ian took a Polaroid of a condom package sitting in a...

  8. Celebrants
    (pp. 94-111)

    We cornered April in the living room. She’d just left Adam. “Why now?” Margo asked. Her glasses, perfectly round, and her expression—as if she were searching perpetually for something wily and distant—lent her the appearance of a person peering through binoculars. “Why ever? You and Adam seem destined for great things.”

    April smiled and said, “Seemed.”

    “This is serious,” I said. “Your life is serious.”

    She ignored me. “To answer your question, dear M., I’ve come to hate certain gestures of his, elemental things. The way he swallows, for instance. The way he breathes.”

    “You broke up with...

  9. The Help
    (pp. 112-128)

    My nurse fell asleep taking a few deep breaths, like the steps that lead from the deck of a swimming pool into the water. I stayed awake what felt like most of the night, but was probably twenty- or thirty-minute patches here and there. Each time I opened my eyes I felt a weird alertness, as if I were taking a test. The sky was the color of milk in a blue plastic glass. In the morning, my nurse—whose uniform was stitched above the right-hand breast pocket withBobbie Blunt—rose from the recliner and smoothed out her skirt....

  10. Privations
    (pp. 129-141)

    The lily pads are gone, gone, and this is less a worry than a verdict: sad. They’ve all died on the lake in Echo Park. Or is it lotus leaves? I can’t remember. I read about it in the newspaper, a neighborhood’s minor tragedy, but it feels larger to me. Pollution to blame, probably. I don’t remember that part either, just the fact of flora, which I suppose I read as possibility, being replaced by the absence of flora. The blossoms, in pictures, like silken briefly crumpled handkerchiefs. They used to be the pride of Echo Park. Soon our planet...

  11. Shelter
    (pp. 142-144)

    After the guests left, the bride floated for a while above a table covered with half-eaten pieces of wedding cake and flower petals. Her face narrowed to a knotted chin, around which was tied a length of white ribbon.

    Norman stood up and flicked her cheek, then cupped it more gently. “Come here,” he said. But she rotated just as he tried to kiss her. “Is something wrong? Didn’t you have fun tonight?”

    She turned back to look at him. The smile that he’d drawn on her with lipstick was not a good indicator of how she felt. It was...

  12. A Civilizing Effect
    (pp. 145-164)

    Edith told herself she wasn’t going to date now that she was a grandmother, yet she’d gone ahead and moved in with a man named Pete. Pete suffered from a sleep disorder. He would appear to wake up in the middle of the night, talking and lecturing, singing sometimes. Once he even shuffled into the kitchen and pantomimed, wrist gracefully rotating, the scrambling of an egg. It was called confusional arousal, and after he was done he’d lie back down and close his eyes. In the morning, he’d say he couldn’t remember anything.

    She sat next to him as he...

  13. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 165-167)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 168-169)