Conjunctions:76 Fortieth Anniversary Issue

Three Stories
The following is one of three stories by Diane Williams featured in Conjunctions:76, Fortieth Anniversary Issue.

 



Popping


She selects a deep-dark violet eggplant that is not shriveled—green beans that are not dirty or coarse—a cucumber that’s not too thick or puffy.

This plaid-dressed lady’s voice is faint and singsong and why does she tell herself things that she already knows?—as if she is talking to a stranger—Any avocados that aren’t soft? Fresh celery? Do you have fresh grapes?

A man the lady sees lifts a Moonglow pear, and although its skin can be bitter, he presses it to his lips. And this marvelous pear, after he puts it back down, is competent to shed its aura all over a kiwi.

As a matter of fact each and every color here at Shim’s is popping around. And not merely a few of us can be distracted by all of this—the history of art teaches us.

As she dawdles near a shop that sells oddball crockery and miscellaneous gifts, the lady receives a wink from Max Hinks. And since she had long wished for this eye contact—she is now well gratified. Oh, the eggplant?—she’ll dice it and fry it, and until then it will be refrigerated and covered to prevent drying—same for the beans. The cucumber will be slashed nearly instantly.

And during this era, all injury to this lady beyond reasonable wear—all losses shall be made good to her satisfaction and when she is injured or lost—the responsibility for her shall be widespread.

This was only the case last year, when her life was not so fast-paced and gripping as it is now. Now there are persons at her side timing her vitals—until, sorry—until she is dead.

She did tend to her husband when he was ill, and she was nice to him, although they had arguments about money.

Money is foremost in her husband’s mind and what he likes best are durable and practical things—stainless steel tableware and the like, that bear no resemblance to his late wife.

He is especially fond of his Waring two-slot, light-duty toaster that was produced with no hazardous material.

It is electric, 120 volts, 950 watts, and is considered by many to be the greatest toaster ever made.



 

Diane Williams edits NOON. Her Collected Stories (Soho Press) is available in paperback. A new book of her stories, How High?—That High, is due out from Soho Press in fall 2021She is the recipient of four Pushcart Prizes.

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In Print

Vol. 76
Fortieth Anniversary Issue
Spring 2021
Edited by Bradford Morrow

Online

August 11, 2021
The property consisted of a small washout pond, several tin structures, and a ranch house with a wraparound porch. The landlord was a tall tan man with silver hair and great big hands, impressive even in his early seventies. He spoke in fast and stuttered rhythms that made me want to clutch the dirt and hang on, but walked at a pace which indicated there was no other place he’d rather be in that moment than with me, touring his property, him explaining to me his rules.
August 4, 2021
I spot wind at the Texas inn where 
my brother plays charcuterie, his head glowing with sweat.

As he peers into the cheese, my oblong sister
offers her face to violent vegetarians

and prognosticates the part about the bison;
indeed, this bison will have denied paradise to us

before we have even eaten. 
July 28, 2021
Sanjay’s stepmother enters the dining room and
his monitoring bracelet records a flutter in his pulse.
Dr. Cameron shows the assistant how he applies
an electrode to the surface of the patient’s brain.
She sees a mountain blow away like it’s sand.
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