One Muggy Spring, Thanks, Dot and Secretly Try | Diane Williams | Granta

One Muggy Spring, Thanks, Dot and Secretly Try

Diane Williams

One Muggy Spring

She was free from upset briefly when she heard the syncopations and the suspensions of time – the soft background music at the eatery that promised to relieve vexation. It was well blended and the rich harmony involved a bassoon.

She was there with good old Jim, in the springtime, who might have asked her, ‘Do you still have intercourse? Do you bleed?’

But in real life Jim did not say anything like that and his penis was not yet sliding around her or poking.

So their moment did not become explosive and they ate their dumplings.

One of them was eager to take the paper wrapping off of the drink straw because it is the easiest thing to have trouble with, but not to fail at.

The woman sums up her son and daughter thusly when Jim inquires – Teddy is slothful and Page is satisfied to be average in every category and now she can’t seem to do anything right – she is dying.

And yet the sound of the woman’s indignation – its clip and its tenor – if Jim could only disregard the words – was not unappealing to his ear.

Still, Jim was fearful of what the woman might tell him next or that she might ask him a shaming question.

He was a little bit atremble further into the meal, when he sweetened up his coffee.

The woman watched him pour sugar in and stir. He poured more sugar in and stirred and next he poured in more sugar and he stirred.

As she drove herself home, the woman was hardly aware of anything except for the suggestion of roadway on account of the misty drizzle.

In these warm months – the grass and the trees and even the people – their houses and their cars and bicycles – vanished in the fog, and it was promising. And the trees were safely tucked in. Their roots were rallying in the soil, in this coil.

Would the woman also take a turn for the better in her last decade?

She felt a breeze at the top of her head while driving – and since the car windows were tightly shut, she marveled at the source of the tiny gust.

But now she had a dull ache there, in her scalp. Was that sensation arousal?

Well, then the rain became heavier and it made of her car’s body a drum skin that produced a low-pitched, dry sound, much like applause – that is not apropos here, not fitting.

Because plainly there are the woman’s shortcomings to consider when one compares her to other mothers – or to the huge central pool of mothers, or to the huge central pool of persons who have demonstrated that quality – pathos.

The woman leans forward. She can’t see – can’t see well enough to drive safely.

She sees only roughly splashed grays.

She did not brake the car in the middle of the road. Rather, she continued driving, while weighing the meaning of her bony hands barely holding the wheel.


Diane Williams

Diane Williams is the author of nine books of fiction, including The Collected Stories of Diane Williams, published by Soho Press (now available in paperback). A new book of her stories, How High? – That High is forthcoming from Soho Press in 2021. She is also the founder and editor of the distinguished literary annual NOON. She lives in New York City.

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