A posthumous memoir, a gay millennial in marriage, and a community’s growing obsolescence

I didn’t know Shoshana Alexandra’s writing had a story until I found an excerpt from “Seven” on Amazon. As a fiction writer in a small town of love, faith, irony, literary aspiration, gentrification, corporate…

A posthumous memoir, a gay millennial in marriage, and a community’s growing obsolescence

I didn’t know Shoshana Alexandra’s writing had a story until I found an excerpt from “Seven” on Amazon.

As a fiction writer in a small town of love, faith, irony, literary aspiration, gentrification, corporate behemoths, bookstore parking lot patrons, and a few stray souls. I’m an artist, too—in ways that make a fool of me and steal the person I want to be, or at least an artist. And as many do when they’re comfortable, or pretend to be an artist.

My erogenous zones are small and contained: I see my reflection in the fabric of the window, glowing from within, protected by the specter of nearby yellow school buses and water towers, my hair falling in waves onto the window ledge and back, like water and sand.

All I remember from the midday we were dead-set on for lunch:

The hurried midday I was dying for. The pursuit of lunch, of convenience, and time. Something I could have never imagined my hopes for a quiet, largely uninhabited town. It was vacation time. I was starving.

All my little hopes were haunting me—yes, I wasn’t comfortable where I was at, and the theninig way I ran was trying so hard not to hurt myself, the way I tried to focus on the danger. What a cliché, I thought. I really wish I knew a simple shortcut I could use that would allow me to get out of here quickly, pain-free. And quickly they get. The poison, deep down, must have been in the shallows—clear enough to hit if you were willing to let it.

And like sleep, I could never remember the exact night it happened, the silent night, the one that could take a handful of dreams and take them away from me, steal what might’ve been, as though I had no use for them anymore.

The room is small, the living room looks from the rear to the front, the light from one window taking up almost half of the room’s square footage. I live alone now; it feels fancy, even for a decrepit stretch of pavement, and so I’m lonely. No one enters my house. I really have no idea where they go, nor can I stare out the window and not hear them. I have hopes, but no comfort. The only noise comes from other men playing cards and other men playing chess and talking about their families. Every once in a while, a back door opens. As soon as I hear voices, I’m on it. Right away, I’m patient with people who move in and out, and the students at the neighborhood kids’ summer camps—though, when someone from the game board calls my name, I don’t hear it—or it’s maybe a chorus of laughter in the dimly lit room; like in the afternoon when someone backs out of a flowery dress in the window, and the light from the tapering window-on-a-door cascades down to the floor.

I’ve looked at the glass thinking of all the things I’ve looked at the glass looking at. How is the milk, the bathroom paper? What’s in that jar?

I’ve looked to the glass for aliveness, but I’ve spent a lot of time watching you go, me, too.

If I tried to try to get you to stay. The sometimes-light, sometimes-dark affairs we had before, the good times, and the deeper circles I’ve felt since then—had we both been seen by God, I think we’d have stopped being attracted to each other. We have moments of genuine delight, gentleness, but mostly we just consider ourselves lucky. An admirer, once. I hope you see that one day we might change. I’d like to stay around here if we weren’t too busy to see each other—or if you stopped having dreams. Maybe one day we’ll discover what makes us so beautiful, and we’ll be able to save each other from ourselves.

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