Lost Connections by Susan Gibb

“Who?” I ask. I don’t recognize the name, can hardly make sense of it. The caller is crying.

She explains that we went to college together, were in the same dorm, but I don’t really remember her well. A picture pieces together, a flat, freckled face, sad eyes behind telescope glasses, a certain smell, like stale cigarettes mingled with Vapo-Rub. Marcy Johansson. Clown orange hair. I only saw her through our second year; I’m not even sure she graduated.

She wants to come over. I avoid it and agree to meet her downtown. I stop on the bank on the way to the cafe, one hundred dollars cash is all I’m willing to give her. I’m sure this is why she’s called.

I spot her; same flag of hair. “Hi, Marcy,” I say and sit down across from her. She’s drinking coffee and I order the same.

The story is one I don’t want to listen to, don’t want to remember. It’s been twenty years, and I never knew all the details, the remnants of a mistake. I realize now why I hadn’t seen her around the final two years.

“He was your son, too,” she says. Her eyes drip sorrow. “I thought you might want to know what became of him, that he was brave and died a hero. He was a good son. A fine young man.”

I give her the one hundred dollars and leave. I don’t know what else she expected.

.

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22 Comments

Filed under Susan Gibb

22 responses to “Lost Connections by Susan Gibb

  1. This is NOT what I expected. I assumed the narrator was a woman … the realisation blew me away. But the ending did seem very much like a man’s response … though is that unfair? Anyway, it seemed very real.

  2. Actually, Matt, I had the narrator in mind as a woman as well. Underground abortions and underground adoptions back in the days. But it could go either way, I suppose. Thanks for giving me a different perspective on it!

  3. So she raised his son, his son died a brave hero, and the father doesn’t even care? His apathy came through loud and clear. What a bastard.

    Well written.

  4. guy

    I really like this. I can read it politically, or as a portrait of cruelty.

    I read it like Matt — not sure why. I agree with Matt, but i think it could be a woman, too.

    Great stuff.

  5. I read her as a woman. The hair, I think, made her womanly to me.
    This is really strong

  6. Randal Houle

    stale cigarettes-vapor rub…. nice.
    Nice twist (of the heart) too. Wonderfully written.

  7. Catherine Davis

    This is a loose connection, all right. So much human truth here. I love it.

  8. Absolutely lovely. I wish I had written it. Bravo.

  9. Missy

    I like this detail: “a certain smell, like stale cigarettes mingled with Vapo-Rub…”

    And boy he’s cold. $100!

    Wow. Just wow. Well written!

  10. The indifference of the narrator – wow. I read this at first that the narrator was female, but then the ending made me realize it was a man. Maybe it’s the wine (?), but however interpreted, the story’s powerful. Peace…

  11. a perfect twist of a story: telling what happened without telling it. i read it twice yesterday, and again today. really like the ambiguity, the questions it poses without question marks.

  12. I had to read this piece a couple of times – not that it was so difficult, but that it was layered – lots of questions that I wanted to sort out in my mind. And that’s the beauty of it. The cold, 100-dollar ending is clear- as though a price, any price, could pay.

  13. The gender switch at the end is an emotional surprise I sure didn’t see coming. Great story.

  14. wow a curve with this one..amazing how blurred those college quests become in later life..

  15. Matt DeVirgiliis

    Such a powerful story. Again, I like how many are writing about veterans and the wars.

  16. susan, this was amazing, didn’t see it coming in the least. had to read back but of course, it does make sense. i don’t know what others think, didn’t read the comments yet but the narrator isn’t cruel he’s only so shut down it’s painful to read. masterful.

  17. I agree with Speh. The ending–the reaction–feels more like shock than cold indifference. This was profound. Namaste.

  18. JP Reese

    Wow. Had to read this twice to understand fully all the implications. You nailed this guy so well, Susan. Powerful.

  19. I like the tone and the character – well written! So much psychological insight it. Thank you.

  20. Kim Hutchinson

    Susan, you just keep topping yourself. This packs a serious punch.

  21. This one hit me like a steam engine…wow! You amaze me. I like the gender mystery, intended or not, it works for me, and the end just tore at my heart. What depth you convey with so few words.

  22. Pingback: Week #35 – Loose connections | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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