Wednesday, October 15, 2014

the last book I ever read (Elizabeth McCracken's Thunderstruck & Other Stories, excerpt six)

from Thunderstruck & Other Stories by Elizabeth McCracken:

Look here: Karen Blackbird is standing on the front porch before she disappears. The house itself is a wreck, the brown asbestos tile weathered in teary streaks. A lawnmower skulks up to its alligatorish eyebrows in the yard. Half the teeth in the porch railing have been punched out, and Karen Blackbird puts the toe of her shoe through a gap in the railing and pivots her foot back and forth, as though it’s a switch that might work a decision. Her loopy hair shifts in the wind. Her lips are chapped, as usual. She has the kind of face that makes old women say, “Dear, if you just took a little care, you’d be so pretty.” Those old women are wrong. Her bare calves are thick and muscular, but her hands are bony. She’s still too young to carry that nose with any authority. Her oversized coat is missing half its buttons, always has been.

The lives of the missing begin Last seen, and for a moment, or a week, or a day—who knows how long—she’s here. This isn’t the last time. She’s about to go but not right now. Only in magic shows does anyone announce the imminent disappearance of a woman. Even then you don’t know what you’ll find in her place.

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