In a college dorm, in a prison, in a marriage
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Jessica Anya Blau’s latest novel is The Trouble with Lexie. She is on Facebook every now and then, Twitter sporadically, and Instagram every day or so. All are @Jessicaanyablau. She divides her time between Baltimore and New York.
This man could have been my rapist, but he looked too nice. He had thick, wavy hair, like a movie star from the seventies, and a jawbone that could take out your eye. I hung my feet over the edge of the roof and let myself slide into his arms.
My father, whom everyone calls Buzzy, and Alejandro, my brother’s Cuban boyfriend, are sitting at my parents’ kitchen table eating gefilte fish with horseradish. My sister Anna is doing a crossword puzzle — her fourth one today. It is midnight. My mother, a lifelong smoker, is in the hospital, having suffered a “massive” heart attack.
Our dinner conversation was usually quick, as my father was a fast writer. He might ask, “What did you do today?” or, “How’s school?” and while I answered, he would already be scribbling out his next question. But that night, Dad didn’t write or even look my way. We just sat there twirling spaghetti onto our forks and forcing giant noodle-cocoons into our mouths.
The Sun doesn’t usually report on current events, but September’s terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. marked a turning point for all of us. We put out a call to our writers, inviting them to reflect on the tragedy and its aftermath. The response was overwhelming. As word got around, we received submissions not only from regular contributors but from writers who are new to The Sun’s pages.
When Chris died it was a shock. No one had ever really died before, although everyone in his group of friends had almost died at least a couple of times.
Miss Lena goes into the dressing room, closes the folding three-way mirror, gets down on her knees, and prays. I wonder if she’s really praying for customers, as she tells me, or if she’s praying for bigger things, like peace in Yugoslavia, where she is from and which she calls Yugo, or maybe an end to homelessness. It seems to me you shouldn’t waste a prayer on attracting customers.