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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February 28, 2024
I saw it in this very particular slide of swell’s,
the sylphspun silk of the sylph, she sideways,
her garage is paradise in masque, her sweep
is saturn, szturn im sturm & string, install’d
February 28, 2024
For breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On slices of rubbery white bread buttered with margarine so that the marmalade slides under the spreading knife. In the glass jar, the orange jelly with bright shavings of orange peel absorbs light and invites hungry eyes. And so, dreaming of marmalade, the brothers, always in need of sustenance, arrive on a snowy March morning at Heathrow.
February 21, 2024
Because in the kitchen, it’s difficult to lie

Because the yearbook photo shows long straight hair parted down the middle, Marcia Brady-
  style

Because in my son’s mind, he has only one dziadek & babcia & that blindspot diminishes me
  more each day
The 2019 Shirley Jackson Award winner reads from his work
Monday, March 25, 2024
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm EDT/GMT-4
Campus Center, Weis Cinema