This Woman

By Laura Grodin

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No author can ever convince you a character exists. They describe a shell; a woman, for
arguments sake. She’s taller than you, and sees the world from a different angle.
Something might look round, but she could tell you it’s really square from up top. She
wears glasses, whichhelp her see that this thing is square, and her glasses, too, have
square frames. But there are other things about her besides her poor eyesight boxed
by thick, black plastic.

She lost a child once. A child that she didn’t want to have, but she can tell you where it
would have gone to school and what its name would have been, (she picked a name that
was deliberately unisex). The father wasn’t a very nice man, and she never wanted to see
him again.

This woman has a recurring dream each night about drowning, which is odd because she
knows how to swim. In her dream, she is on an island alone. The island is not tropical or
warm, in fact it’s cold and burdened with constant rain. She sits on a block of
ice-turned-bench, and she reads a book that seems to have the same page over and over and
over again. As much as it rains, the pages won’t tear. She becomes engrossed with this
revolving story and when she looks up, the island is slowly sinking. The water covers the
tips of her hair, her chin, and then her eyes. She suffocates as water fills her lungs,
stretching to their widest capacity and bursting. But there’s no reason to feel for this woman.

Because she always wakes up, she isn’t real.

You don’t even know her name.

 – Laura Grodin