Because We Make a Living

Because We Make a Living

Ashley Strosnider


Allen knows how to double check. He sets boundaries, wears sunglasses, sends flowers, proceeds to the end of the tunnel. His anger is really quite something, but that’s what the boundaries, the double-checking, the flowers are for.

The problem is bedbugs, that Cincinnati is just full of them. That you can’t buy used couches, even from friends, especially if you’re going to have a baby. Tracy is culling names out of family trees, out of great literature, out of flowerbeds, out of thin air. And so you walk her to the courthouse because she needs your insurance, and do you, Allen, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife? You do, Allen. You did.

The universe does not seem to have a desire for apostrophe.


In DC, when she still wore glasses. In small town New York, at nineteen, when she met his mother and told her she had lipstick on her teeth. In Houston, that time he tried to walk to work on the shoulder of the interstate just to feel a rush of danger and she followed him, drove up slow and handed him a pack of cigarettes, then drove off to sell honey, mangoes and skim milk at the market, and then, he knows, drove home to paint acrylic constellations, speak Portuguese at the cat.

The universe does not seem to cry like a river.

Allen is working a lot. It is just that time of year. He is driving to Nashville in a blue-green rental car, listening to audiobooks, on his way to supervise a really big project. His boss will be there. The girls he supervises will make him proud. He will wear jeans to the event. He knows the GM will be annoyed and his boss will shake his head and the girls he supervises will wink approval. He does it for the girls he supervises. This rebellion is born from the sample impulse that earned him a philosophy degree—and at once is also its antithesis, simple testament to a now-corporate privilege to transcend the branch rules. He will take the girls he supervises to dinner, wearing a well-fitted, wrinkled shirt. He will congratulate them on this quarter’s numbers. He will compliment their haircuts. He will buy their wine and desserts with money to-be reimbursed. He will counsel them against marriage. He will order roses. He will don the wayfarers. He will proceed to the end of the tunnel.

The universe does not seem to tiptoe. Listen to his feet. What they are saying.

Ashley Strosnider recently received her MFA from the University of South Carolina. She currently lives in Charleston, SC, where she eats lots of oysters and works in book publishing. Find her work at Word Riot, decomP, Fifth Wednesday, and others.  Find her on twitter @bravenewlady.

All rights reserved to Ashley Strosnider.

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