All of a Sudden

399px-girlCarla Panciera’s short story “All of a Sudden” appeared in NER 25.3:

I imagined Albinna trolling the aisles of the dime store, the sleeves on a denim jacket her brother’d outgrown rolled over her thin wrists. The saleswomen, older than our mothers, sweaters around their shoulders cape-like, would follow after her expecting her to pocket lip gloss or musk, things she fingered or picked up to smell. There was nothing she thought of stealing. But who else would have known that about her? 

I stopped going places without her. I felt a generous love for her and for myself loving her. When she couldn’t go somewhere because she was ironing curtains, she’d been out that day already, she had to get lettuce at the store, I stayed home, my mother asking: Where’s Albinna today? 

We’d found a rusting truck cap in a back field and dragged an old coffee table into it. She brought a candle and once we tried cigarettes there. Days without her, I’d sit there myself, bring the dog, find something to use as a vase and fill it with wild chamomile. 

You could ask another friend over, my mother said, but I had no wish to do that. 

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