For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“Mermaids”

Deborah Eisenberg

Excerpt

“Well, darling—” Her mother simled gently. “Because I need time to see my friends just as you need time to see your friends.”

But the point was, Kyla thought, she didn’t need time to see her friends. All she and her friends had was time—time and time and time. Waiting through the long, dull afternoons, the whole funnel of Kyla’s memory, playing upstairs with the dolls or games or trading cards they’d been given to play with, doing each other’s hair, pretending Brides or Baby or Shopping just like Alice did now, pretending—there was nothing else to do—they they were pretending, until it was time to come back down for milk and cookies or for one of them to be take home. Waiting to understand the point of the dolls or games they’d been presented with, waiting for the afternoon to turn into night or for Sunday to turn into Monday, or for August to turn into September, or for nine years old to turn into ten and ten to turn, heavenly, into eleven. Waiting alone in front of the television for the long evenings to fall away. Staring at the screen as if they were staring through periscopes for land, and in the dim evening rooms, the world, the distant world—which was what they must be waiting for—approached, welled into the screens, and the evening fell away in half-hour pieces. And then, finally, there was bed, and another long day had been completed. “What friend do you need time to see?” Kyla said.

“Stand up straight, darling,” her mother said. “You don’t want to look like Margie Strayhorn, do you? Doctor Loeffler.”