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relationships

Illustration by Anders Nilsen

She Cannot Work

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.

Art by Anna Schuleit Haber

Geometry

I.

Although they are now in their forties and no longer live in the same house, Helen and Phoebe are still referred to as “the Campbell sisters.” This makes them feel less like people than a brand. It is a brand with a consistent equity, expressed recently by a woman at a party who said to Phoebe, “I’ve heard about you and your sister. How you’re both super beautiful and smart.”

Beautiful and smart. How was she supposed to respond to a comment like that? The word “super” bothered her, she tells Helen now. As if they are not mere mortals, but crusaders in capes.

After His Ex Died

 

We were quick to tell each other what we wanted. I said, I want to be cremated and then I want my ashes to be tossed in the Pacific and the Atlantic. He said I was greedy for wanting both coasts, but he’d do it.

from Cockaigne

 

It was actually a good year, the year before the downfall, a surprisingly good year in our little town. It was a year of bread on the table, a year with a new IPA in our glasses, a year with friends who visited with great frequency.

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Illustration by Gosia Herba

Other People’s Birthdays

Whatever it took to make it an arduous trip, and of course you couldn’t say the obvious, you had to smile and say there were worse problems blah blah blah. The mediocre glass of wine for thirteen dollars at the airport bar was one of them. The candy bar she ate on top of that, an hour later, made her sick. 

Illustration by Gosia Herba

The Lineaments of Gratified Desire

When he thought about it, he could see that this thing with Alexa Jamison was a betrayal of the idea of what Sonya and he had been: the romance of that. Such a sweet beginning seems always to create a following inertia: the two families, everybody coming together as part of the story. 

The Cowboy Tango

When Mr. Glen Otterbausch hired Sammy Boone she was sixteen and so skinny that the whole of her beanpole body fit neatly inside the circle of shade cast by her hat. 

Illustration by Chris Ware

Jordan W. Lint, Installment #2

Chris Ware contributes the second installment of “Jordan W. Lint,” a “serialized pictorial fiction,” to the Spring 2008 issue of VQR. Ware’s new project tells the story of the fictional Jordan W. Lint by illustrating single days from each year of his life. Illustration by Chris Ware Illustration by Chris Ware Illustration by Chris Ware