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Ashleigh Young

Ashleigh Young lives in Wellington, New Zealand, where she works as an editor at Victoria University Press. She is the author of the poetry collection Magnificent Moon (Victoria, 2013) and the essay collection Can You Tolerate This? (Victoria, 2016), which won a 2017 Windham-Campbell Literature Prize from Yale University and is forthcoming (Riverhead, 2018).


Illustration by Anders Nilsen

She Cannot Work

Summer 2018 | Fiction

She cannot work when the man is in the house. She is working on a project that she has been working on for a long time, and ever since she began living with the man the project has been moving slowly and she is no longer sure that she will finish it. In the evenings, after they watch the TV show they both like, she and the man lie on the couch together reading or looking at their computers, and sometimes she will try, secretly, to work on her project, but, after a few minutes, the man will hear her hesitant typing and look up from his book to ask her what she is doing. She can’t tell him about the project because once, when she felt tired of his questions about it, she told him she had stopped working on it. Too many things had changed since she began all those years ago, she said, so it no longer made sense to continue, and instead she would spend her spare time on her studies. But the truth is that she has continued.