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The Short Form


Laura van den Berg


“When we were sitting on the bench this morning, you were saying something to me. Something important.”

“I could tell you weren't paying attention,” he said. “You kept looking over my shoulder.”

“That's true,” I said. “I was distracted. There were these acrobats.”

“And now you're wondering what I said?”

“I was hoping you'd repeat it for me.”

“We all have to live with our deficiencies.”

“That's what you said?”

“No. That's what I'm saying now.”

“What does that mean? That you're not repeating it for me?”

“There are consequences for the things we do. That's what I'm saying.”



“I don't believe in consequences. There's just what happens and what doesn't.”

“I'm glad to hear you still sound just like yourself.”

“Did you say that you loved me?”


“That you never really loved me?”


“That you'd met someone else?”

“Wrong again.”

“That you're planning to kill me and collect my life insurance payout?”

“It's crossed my mind,” he said. “But no.”

We read it in The Isle of Youth.

Originally published in Necessary Fiction.

full story available at Necessary Fiction