fiction by Gail Labovitz

Acknowledgments

Summer reading special: 1st place fiction contest winner

How do I explain it? The truth is, you don’t. Who could you tell who would believe it? You meet in grad school and from the very beginning you’re best friends. This seminar, that seminar, you read each other’s work, share advice on conference papers, and dissertation defenses, and publishing, and job talks. She gets a tenure track position in upstate New York, the following year you get a tenure track position somewhere in the Midwest, and pretty soon she’s got a book contract too. You fly east for her wedding, and they drive out for the naming of your first child. And then one day she calls you, and even the ring of the phone seems ominous, and when you pick up her voice is all small and you know something is wrong and you say to her, it’s okay, tell me what’s wrong, and meanwhile you’re running all the possibilities through your head, sure you can support her whatever it is: she’s unexpectedly pregnant, they can’t get pregnant, he’s leaving her, she had an affair with a student, a fellow faculty member, a dean, a dean’s wife, she got lousy teaching reviews, her book contract fell through.

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