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The Short Form

“The Harvest”

Amy Hempel


One one side of me was a man who spoke only in phone numbers. You would ask him how he felt, he would say, “924-3130.” Or he would say, “757-1366.” We guessed what these numbers might be, but nobody spent the dime.

There was sometimes, on the other side of the me, a twelve-year-old boy. His lashes were thick and dark from blood-pressure medication. He was next on the transplant list, as soon as—the word they used was harvest—as soon as a kidney was havested.

The boy's mother prayed for drunk drivers.

I prayed for men who were not discriminating.

Aren't we all, I thought, somebody's harvest?

We read it in The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel.

Originally published in The Quarterly: Spring 1987.