5.06 / June 2010

Only in Motion

listen to this story

The daughter has been willing herself into a collision since thirteen. The daily preparation of this task has diminished her social ability. She tends to think only of motion, of the way the body loses itself to force, the way bones will only bear so much pressure. You can see it in her face when you talk to her. The whiplash, the busted kneecaps, the unheeded stop signs. It’s not just the contrary violence that’s evident, but how much she wants it.

The daughter has few friends, but her mother numbers among them. They daydream their way to the funeral home. The mother has set her hair and wears dry, fuchsia lipstick. They cluck over the caskets and the satin.

The younger one considers an outrageously-bleak slate headstone. She considers one with an angel and a harp, a lamb. There are grape leaves and plump grapes.

“Why would anyone want grapes on their headstone?” she asks.

“Excess,” says her mother, “someone who likes excess would want grapes.”

“Oh,” says the daughter.


“I want the black granite,” she says.

The mother nods in approval, “I like the pink, myself.”

The clerk does not quite know how to react. He decides to stay put behind the register, allows the formality of the cash machine to protect him. The women don’t even see him, though. They pass out of the stone-carver’s room and saunter like sun-drunk crows to the Lincoln.