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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Vol. 82
Works & Days
Spring 2024
Bradford Morrow

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June 19, 2024
I am sorry for not writing sooner. To be completely frank, I was afraid of receiving a response and knowing for certain that you’re finished with me. I am very troubled by the way we’ve left things.
 
June 12, 2024
It took place in London at the end of the seventeenth century—a man was spending the evening at home, often thinking of a friend of his, a woman, who was very ill, worrying about her, hoping she would live, when there was a knock on the door, and she entered, looking fine, thriving, in fact, and sat down in a normal way and began a normal conversation, though she seemed a little more serious than usual until he began to cry, at which she continued quietly, discussing things of the soul, aspects of time, and he began to sob, and she continued speaking quietly, as he sobbed and sobbed, and when he finally looked up she was gone.
June 5, 2024
I’ll just speak for myself. This seems to be the best plan. When you try to speak on behalf of others you run into trouble. See? Already I has become you, but I cannot be you. But you can come along with me, at my side if you like, even if my walk is a bit awkward and you probably want to move more quickly over the terrain. Probably you wouldn’t say “terrain.” You would say ground or path or street. These choices don’t amount to a disagreement, just a different habit of mind. The mind’s terrain. Just now my mind’s terrain is a bit foggy, a bit dreary. It feels, inside of this fog, quite empty, as if, when the fog lifts, there will be nothing but an expanse uninflected by things to see or do, undisturbed by names and places, recollections and glimpses into other times and other places.