Meghan Austin

A guy calls his girlfriend and says, Can I come over? Or says something sexy we can't imagine since we're his friends. He cabs to her apartment, and she says they will go out. She is the youngest 22 year old he ever met, he later explains, like a 15 year old who is also 60. The cab waits through several long conversations. She decides not to leave the house. The cab is already gone.

Another guy is a good dater, is always on a date and has a depressingly optimistic take on life that we realize is to cover up a deep and strange sadness we don't want to know about; we would prefer to believe someone in the world is actually just happy. He dates a mean girl. She says mean things about her family and then the mean things start to be about him. No one hears about the meanness until she has been gone for a long time, and when we hear it, we are surprised, and so is he, again.

A man finds out his boyfriend is cheating on him and stubs a cigarette out on the boyfriend's hand. The cigarette burn punches him in the face. "It was the best relationship I ever had," the man explains, twenty years later. "If he'd speak to me, I would take him back in a second."

A playwright writes erotic poetry to an actress. He is drawn to her because she is an alcoholic, like he used to be, and because of her intensity. We are the only ones who know about it, besides his girlfriend and everyone in the audience opening night. After an argument at intermission, she ad-libs the line, "You don't love me; you just love my tears." He is so in love, he thinks this is a good line.

A guy dumps his girlfriend every year around February. He says he dumps her because he cannot stand being on a schedule. We give the girlfriend Tylenol PM and send her to bed. Her sadness creates sounds worse than any we've ever heard, including the two-hour death rattle in an Ingmar Bergman film. They hang out "as friends" for several months until Spring, when he is just her boyfriend again.

Two women meet in a bar before the smoking ban. They eat crepes and smoke and have a fantastic sex life. One night, the younger woman goes off her mood stabilizers and drives over to tell the older one: "I don't love you and never will. Every time I said I loved you, I was lying." The older suspects the younger is experiencing something the older read about on the internet. Despite all her reading, she never imagined it could happen, now, in a Lexus.

A woman who is ill meets a man from work who is ill. Their meet-cute story is: "a bunch of people in a car on cocaine." He is a DJ, a good dancer and an attempter of suicide. She never tells us why she breaks up with him, but it's not any of these reasons. A year later, a mutual former co-worker who now works in a coffee shop explains that the man moved home to upstate New York, which is a way of saying he's had a breakdown or is back on hardcore drugs. We walk to her car, where she lights a cigarette, leans her head into the steering wheel, and cries.

Meghan Austin lives and writes in Chicago. Her work has been published recently in The 2nd Hand, Failbetter and The Mississippi Review.

To link to this story directly:

Read MA's "Marla" from the archive.

Photo detail on main page courtesy of Viewerblur.

w i g · l e a F               12-06-08                                [home]