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Girls in Trouble

Girls in Trouble: Stories

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 144
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  • Book Info
    Girls in Trouble
    Book Description:

    An abandoned girl, a savaged heart, a fatal hit and run—the thirteen stories in this powerful collection explore the scattered wreckage of life’s survivors. The characters in Girls in Trouble struggle to overcome loss and find their way through a world of desire and menace, redemption and error. Normalcy, a state always just beyond reach, glitters and beckons, impelling them forward. A relationship disintegrates while a pot of crabs boils. A man vows to end his destructive lifestyle before it ruins his family and future. A young woman fights to free herself from the weight of an unwanted inheritance. A girl finds herself lost in the storm of her parent’s break up. These stories crackle and sing with an urgency and longing that lingers long after the last page is read.

    eISBN: 978-1-61376-189-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-2)
    (pp. 3-20)

    Mares’s father wakes her in the aching hours before dawn. Summer, and all is stagnant, unmoving, save the crickets who call through her open window, uneasily in their warm night’s cadence. “I have something to show you,” her father says, scooping Mares in his arms.

    Mares is half asleep, doesn’t understand what her father wants. He’s been gone some time, a month or more. He is often gone for weeks on end. “When did you get home?” Mares asks, her voice filled with sand and dreams. Her father struggles to stand with her in his arms. She’s eleven years old....

    (pp. 21-24)

    Give me the first word that comes to mind, she says, pen pressed to the magazine page.

    They sit at the small kitchen table, waiting for the oven to warm their dinner.

    He says nothing, his attention hard to his new cell phone as he works through its features.

    She says his name, says, What word comes to mind?

    Nine p.m., both are fresh home from work. Both are tired. In eighteen days they marry. The apartment’s a mess. They’re out of stamps, have bills to mail.

    He looks up at her. Any word? he asks.

    The first, she says....

    (pp. 25-31)

    It’s my eighth trip, and it’s my last. I’ve promised myself. I can no longer do this, no longer endure the risks.

    My clothing and luggage are spread on the bed. She’s spread on the bed, too, freshly showered, naked. It’s three a.m., Monday. New York City’s settled. We’ve been together six months, she and I.

    The refrigerator’s stocked and there’s money in the drawer. She knows not to ask me where or why I travel. She asks, “How long?” The words “this time” remain unspoken.

    My three passports sit next to my wallet packed with cash.

    Niger. The women...

  6. ZEBRA
    (pp. 32-47)

    The eulogy is short. Kinina doesn’t cry, sits quietly with the woman and man who want her to call them Mom and Dad, with their sixteen-year-old son, Grant. “He’s your brother now,” the woman says. They’re white. Kinina is not.

    After, there’s a cheerless gathering in the basement of the man and woman’s co-op building. The carpet’s a corporate brown. The chairs fold. The woman organized it all; it’s an event for her, one of the many things she does to call herself kind. The people there are people she knows from church or the Yale Club. The food is...

    (pp. 48-53)

    She blacks out often. Acne scars her breasts. White wine, vodka, and a splash of red Gatorade mixed in a Smucker’s jam jar—that’s her drink, what makes her black out.

    He drives a Prius and writes grants for Dress the Best, a foundation focused on providing the homeless with designer men’s wear.

    She’s a Buddhist. He’s not. They marry in November and honeymoon in Brooklyn. Husband. Wife. They both want children. Lots of children.

    Six months into their marriage, their neighbor places a 911 call, complains about the smell coming from their apartment. “Like lasagna gone bad,” she says....

    (pp. 54-62)

    I never liked my uncle. When I was a girl, he’d touch me in a way that felt both good and bad. It confused me, and I had enough confusion already.

    My parents were killed when I was nineteen. The propane tank on the trailer home somehow exploded, chewed them up in a bright blue flame. “Poor girl,” people said. I was sad, but everyone else seemed sadder, which I didn’t understand. People die. That’s what they do.

    Still, the way they died hassles me. I lie awake at night wondering what they were doing in that trailer home. It’s...

    (pp. 63-80)

    Rory strikes the concrete hard, rolls twice onto the sidewalk, and ends up on his side, his raincoat twisted about him. The cab doesn’t slow, tears off down the street.

    Maya, his wife, witnesses it all.

    It’s nine p.m., Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s sheeting rain, the first solid rain in two months, and the ground, hardened by the summer heat, refuses to absorb it. The runoff floods the street, the sidewalk, traveling in wide, swift streams.

    Rory’s umbrella lies broken in the street, its metal ribs torn from the fabric.

    They came from the city, took the L train over to...

    (pp. 81-83)

    It’s been some time since they were a couple, at least a month. Probably longer. Maybe three. They look like siblings. Sloane says no, wants nothing to do with him now. Still he persists, stands in front of her building in the aching hours of morning, every morning, and calls out her name. He calls it but once, loud and begging. “Sloane!” he calls, hoping for an answer.

    He claims to be past his heroin habit, is into other things now. Woodworking. Candle making. Reading old recipe books that call for cans of Campbell’s cream soup. But no TV. He...

  11. ORIENT
    (pp. 84-98)

    I’m clapped, Leesa thinks, certain the man following her into the Macy’s lingerie section is security. Pausing at a pile of sale underwear, she buries the stolen watch and sifts through the panties, like she’s shopping.

    He touches her lightly on her shoulder as she examines a red lace thong. “It’s not your color,” he says, and then tells her she’s stunning. “Your face,” he says, “the symmetry. It’s like a perfectly set dinner table.” He tells her that he’s on the board of the Metropolitan Opera, enjoys eating caviar pizza and drinking peppermint-infused vodka at Pravda at two in...

    (pp. 99-107)

    My father has no left hand. He lost it in an accident when I was an infant, leaving him a rounded stub dark and as rough as bark. Growing up, it’d terrify me. I hated him tucking me into bed at night, his stump jabbing at the sheets and cover like a nightstick. Even now, at twenty-four, I’m creeped out by it. Whenever he’s in short sleeves, I can’t help but think of some alien cricket leg, the way his handless arm bends and fiddles about.

    I don’t know how it happened, how he lost it. He won’t tell me,...

    (pp. 108-111)

    “You’re ridiculous,” the girl tells him. Her hands are full of bags from shopping and her face glossy with sweat. “I mean, really, it’s not a big deal.”

    He says nothing, unlocks the apartment door and allows her in first. It’s Saturday, early August, late afternoon. The hallway smells of boiled cabbage, old tea. It smells of burnt plastic. The boy closes the battered door behind him, bolts both the locks.

    The apartment is a sixth-floor walk-up railroad on Mott Street, south of Canal. The floors slope. The lighting is faulty. The water takes nearly a minute to warm, rising...

    (pp. 112-118)

    That’s a pretty name. I like your name, the sound of it, the way it sounds when spoken. It’s like the soft sound of ice in a glass.

    But tell me again, how did we get to talking about this? I’m sorry, but tell me how we got to talking about breakups?

    I won’t recommend the Empire State Building, that’s for sure. The Empire State Building I wouldn’t recommend as a place to break up. Not unless you’ve been drinking and don’t mind a tearful elevator ride down, long and awkward and packed with foreigners and foreign languages, everyone but...

    (pp. 119-128)

    “When you turn twelve,” Maria says, studying her younger sister Lena’s breasts, “I’ll give you my bra.” Three days, a month. Their mother’s left. They’ve been alone some time, Lena and Maria.

    The room, hot from the late spring sun cutting through the bare windows, smells of burnt onions and bad milk. “You itchy?” Lena asks her sister. She itches, has been itchy ever since Raho spent the night between her and Maria on their dingy, gray-sheeted bed, Raho and Maria squirming about every few hours.

    “Why do they always think it’s funny to put pants on a monkey?” Maria...

    (pp. 129-130)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 131-133)