For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form


Joy Williams


I wanted to know more about Houdini. Was Houdini in love, did Houdini love someone? I asked.

“Rosabelle,” my mother said. “He loved his wife, Rosabelle.”

I went and got a glass and poured some ginger ale in it and I sipped my ginger ale slowly in the way that I had seen my mother sip her drink many, many times. Even then, I had the gestures down. I sat opposite her, very still and quiet, pretending.

But then I wanted to know was there magic in the way he loved her? Could he make her disappear? Could he make both of them disappear was the way I put my question.

“Rosabelle,” my mother said. “No one knew anything about Rosabelle except that Houdini loved her. He never turned their love into loneliness which would have been beneath him of course.”

We ate our supper and after supper my mother would have another little bit to drink. Then she would read articles from the newspaper aloud to me.

We read it in Escape.