Liberal Arts
Suzanne Lamb

After senior comps I called my mother from Murray's Place. I told her I'd earned a high pass. "Where are you?" she kept asking. I kept pretending I couldn't hear her. Reed and I played pool with some locals, a man and woman with matching Al's Muffler t-shirts. They wanted to play house rules. While Reed was sizing up a shot the man reached over and grabbed my ass.

Downing beers I reviewed reasons why Reed and I were not a good match. For example: he came from old money and a Louisville prep school. I came from no money and Batesville, home of well-crafted caskets. It was a hypothetical exercise. Reed was Amy Bennet's boyfriend, not mine.

I told Reed I was hungry. We borrowed a car from an oily man at the bar. It was a 1970-something Olds, rust-colored. Reed drove us to the Dairy Q, where we ordered fries and butterscotch ice cream bars. I spilled my fries on the plush upholstery, gathered them up and started eating them. Reed said, "Gross, the guy might have hep C or something." Ten minutes later he pulled off his jeans on that seat, behind the bread store where there were no streetlights. We tried to make love for the first time, but Reed couldn't keep it up.

We returned the car with a twenty and walked wordlessly back to campus. On the sidewalk behind my dorm Reed touched my cheek. He said, "You're something else, baby, you know that?" I knew I was drunk and burned with desire.

I ran into Amy Bennet in the fourth-floor bathroom. She stood at the sink, scooping Noxema. "Men are scum," she said, looking into the mirror. I couldn't tell if she knew.

Suzanne Lamb lives in Western Kentucky with her husband and three children.  Her short, "Real Self," is among the Newport Review prize winners and will appear in the next issue of that journal.

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Detail of photo on main page courtesy of Kamil Porembinkski.

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