Subject Matter

A famous writer called me. She was already crazy. I was flattered. I was fluttering on the edge of people who write about drugs and sex. They had tattoos and piercings. They looked starved and glamorous. I looked like my life, but I felt an affinity with them.

The famous writer was in Austin and said she needed money. I said I would send some. I imagined her on a bed wearing dark slacks and a white shirt, looking up at cracks in the ceiling and discolorations from leaks. She said the government was watching her and everyone was at risk. She was a paranoid schizophrenic, and after a while I became bored and felt strange to have been flattered by her call. I was afraid if I disconnected, it would make her crazier.

Before she left New York, we went riding in Central Park. She sat up tall and confident on a chestnut stallion. I had learned to ride as a child. We were bourgeois girls who had been given lessons. Her father had had sex with her. A man my parents trusted had molested me. Some people believe you don’t come back, although everyone needs to remember to be happy. A year after the famous writer’s call, she killed herself. Recently, I came across a postcard sent by the man my parents had trusted. He was writing from a spa in Switzerland and sending fond regards, as if nothing had happened. I have kept the postcard because the man’s touch is still on it and because his formality in the note makes me laugh.

Laurie Stone is author of three books of fiction and nonfiction and was a longtime writer for the Village Voice. In 2005, she lived in a house installed in Flux Factory’s art gallery, writing a novel. She is at work on the memoir My Life as an Animal and the essay collection The Pain of Language. She performs in FlashPoint, a music and text ensemble of flash fiction artists.