For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form


Christine Schutt


Should I start at the beginning, then, I wonder, when the rage I felt bleeding on and off for weeks made me needle myself to bleed this child out and try again? I wanted someone committed to staying. But my son held on; I thought he had to be a girl. The boy's head lifted to view in his easy birthing, the doctor said, “I think it's a girl,” and that was what we saw, the doctor, the nurses, the father, me. Before the boy part slipped out, we saw this bright girl mouth pouted for kissing. “Ah,” we said.

The astonishing heat between my legs after my son was gone I remember, me on a gurney in a screened-off pen and calling out for ice.

“Do you have any thoughts?” the teacher asks me when I go to see her about my son. Bu the rown-leaf color of the desks, the exhausted chalky air, streaked with the light as if by candles, the tallowed apprentice quality of objects, crude child maps of the explorers, all catch my throat like ash.

We read it in Nightwork.