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The Short Form

“Clear Over Target, the Whole Town in Flames”

Fiona Maazel


Nancy riffled through her stack of invites, and pawed at the wrap about her calf until it was pawed through. Christ, she hadn’t invited Jill. Why hadn’t she invited Jill? How about because when Nancy was little and her dad used to walk into the living room unexpected—he was home early, he was home at all—and if Nancy was already there, she used to imagine her heart popping out of her chest and, on little stick legs, scrambling across the carpet and beseeching her dad from this vantage, like one of those yappy, undersized dogs, a chihuahua, maybe, and watching him scoop up this little heart and press it to his own, and in her head, she called this routine The Jill. “Of course,” she said, as Tina drifted through the room, “Jill’s on the list,” and then she used a letter opener to score the hives erupted on the inseam of her wrist. Phil looked at Tina, the mop of his hair parted down the middle just enough so he could see, and said, “No way that’s allergies,” to which Tina said, “Don’t talk to me, fuckface.”

Nancy smiled. Finally, the kids were talking, and talking in Ger- man, and this was nice because in German, people said I’m sorry. The proper phrase was Das tut mir aufrichtig leid, I am truly, truly, deeply, horribly sorry for everything I have ever done to you, but Entschuldigung was a start.

We read it in Conjunctions: 58.