by Bridget Apfeld
It was summer, the ugly stretch of August. White days of heat. Every night banks of thunderheads gathered on the Atlantic, and heat lightning split the Carolina pines straight down the center, their bark peeled like a skin. You’d find a ring of wooden spears a hundred yards out, embedded in the surrounding dogwood and sweetgum. Often they were buried so deep in the other trees’ flesh it was impossible to pry them free.
I was living in an apartment with Avery just west of the river shipyard, a quarter mile inland from the estuary. In the mornings you could hear the barges on their tow, great shouts of gulls and pelicans as the tugboats took the giants inch by inch out to the sea. The apartment was small but cheap and—unusual for this place—the building was tall. We had excellent Wifi reception.
Avery caught me heading out. She always knew when I was in a rush.
“4C. Again. It’s your turn to go upstairs.” Avery picked at her eye, a fluffy lash wiggling in her grip. “This time he ruined my best take. I’ll be re-filming for hours.”
Avery had an online video series, one with a modest but dedicated following. In the videos she would put on makeup and then remove it completely. Sometimes she would banter while doing so, though mostly she was quiet, daubing at her face with a set of gold-plated brushes. Apparently her analytics were quite good.
“Did you try talking to him?”
She frowned. The eyelash was almost off. She gave it a final tug; it lay flat in her hand like a spindly moth. “He likes you better. Please, Faye?”
I checked my phone. “They’re going to fire me,” I said. “I’ve been late twice this month.”
She brightened. “You’re the best!” She ducked back into her room; through the open door I could see her workstation: laptop, microphone, webcam, spotlight. On her computer I could make out a tiny ticker of numbers, rising every few seconds: 200, 225, 238. I realized this was money flowing into her account.
I climbed the twisting spiral staircase up to the fourth floor. With every step the air grew staler, more oppressive, like someone was breathing into your open mouth. The tight spirals made me nauseous.
4C had a nicer door than us, solid wood. It didn’t buckle when you knocked hard.
It opened just a crack. I cleared my throat. “Mark? She said she can hear your TV again.”
The door swung wider. Mark leaned on the doorjamb. He was a leaner, angles and slouches, hair always swinging in his face, jeans always tugging a sliver too low. I kept my eyes on his.
“Doing Avery’s dirty work again?” He smiled. I could see the window behind the long C of his body in the door. The sky was pale blue, white river clouds scudding along. They’d turn black by the evening.
I prickled. “We both can hear it.”
He shifted his weight, slouching even further. “Oh.” He retreated into the apartment, the door still open. After a moment I went in too. I left the door cracked behind me.
It was a shotgun apartment, rooms off a single long hallway. The floors were swollen from humidity. They snapped and creaked as I followed Mark into his bedroom. I wondered if Avery was tracing my steps from below.
The television was on, but muted. On the screen a pair of women fellated a man wearing a scuba mask while he lounged on a pool float on the lawn. They took turns, their mouths bright red Os as they came up for air. They wore scuba flippers, but nothing else.
Mark was quiet. We watched the women bob up and down. Sweat dripped down my back. I was twenty minutes late now. I could smell Mark next to me, his heavy odor. The pool raft squeaked on the grass.
Cicadas thrumming. The whole city pulsed. Could I hear bullheads slapping on the river surface? Mark always set me on edge like this.
“At least turn it down next time,” I said. “Jesus.”
“Do you always get mean when you’re uncomfortable?” Mark asked. His face was unreadable. I felt baited to answer, baited to refuse. He got off on this. I wanted to rake my nails down his face.
“Just do it.” I went to the door quick. It was still open. A tightness in my stomach loosened.
I left. Behind me I could hear the television volume rising, the cascade of moans and smacks almost indistinguishable from the echo of my feet on the spiral stairs.
I clocked in with a minute to spare. I could see my manager watching me from the
floor office. I gave her a little wave. She poked her wrist up to the window, her watch tapping on the Plexiglas.
“Cutting it close.” Johnno leaned in to kiss my cheek; I ducked away.
“Not in front of Kathy.”
“Oh, right.” Johnno stepped back, miming a bow. “Better?”
“Stop.” I snapped on a pair of rubber gloves. “Do we have chicken today, or pastry?”
I worked at Exxtras, as a Snack Server. I walked around the big box store with a little tray of cubed food—chicken wings, watermelon, donut holes—and offered them to shoppers. Or friends. We were supposed to call them that. Our motto was We’re All Friends Here.
Johnno handed me a tray covered in what looked like severed fingers. “Danishes. Yum.” Red jelly dried to a matte finish on top of the strips.
We set off. Every few feet Johnno paused to adjust his Exxtras uniform cap. I didn’t want to wait for him, but felt like I should. I had been seeing Johnno for a couple months, maybe four or five. It always felt longer than it actually was.
At Fishing Tackle: Exxtra Large Nets! we set up shop. I figured people—friends— might be hungry from looking at the cardboard cutouts of succulent bass leaping from cellophane rivers.
“So, Trent moved out.” Johnno speared a few fingers neatly and handed them to a couple in matching Hard Rock Café t-shirts. “He got that job in Boise.”
“I thought he was going to Sitka?”
“No, that’s Andy. And then Nathan was going to move in but his aunt said he could stay in her garage for free.”
“Oh. Okay.” I shoved my tray of Danishes at a woman with a stroller. Maybe too aggressively—she hurried away, the toddler craning over the edge of its seat, giving me a baleful stare.
“Now that they’re gone,” he said, keeping his tone careful, “it’s just me and Scott. And he’s going back to school in the fall.”
I waited. I knew what he wanted.
“The lease will be up.” He stared at me. I stared back. “Faye—I mean, we’ve been dating for like, ten months, and it makes, uh, fiscal sense…” He cleared his throat. It was obvious he had rehearsed a speech. Johnno always liked to put on a performance. He’d been Snack Server Star of the Month three times this year.
“It just seems like the right thing to do,” he said. “You know. For us. Moving forward.”
Moving forward—what an interesting phrase. I remembered something I’d heard about casinos, that they were built without windows so when you were inside you’d never know what time of day it was. It made you less likely to leave, less likely to tire.
A woman with a dog in a stroller walked past us. I was struck by how secure she looked, how confident. She was exactly where she wanted to be.
As Johnno began again I interrupted. “I’ll think about it.”
His face broke open. He really was handsome when he was happy. Before I could duck away he leaned in to kiss me. My tray was crushed against my chest.
“I’m so lucky to be with you.” He beamed, did a jig and a bow for a family of pink- cheeked blonds walking by. They beamed back. The cardboard bass grinned at us all.
Across the river evening storms brewed above the swamps, breezes rippling through the sawgrass and cattails in brief, fluid bursts. Under the water, the blacktips would be prowling. Bumping against the barge hulls in the thick silty water.
Avery and I sat on the kitchen counter drinking weak gin and tonics. The windows were wide open: we were courting the air. Errant drops from the stalled storm, bouncing inward off the sill, plinked our legs. I liked the sporadic, chilly feeling. Like a small tongue.
We watched a celebrity news show on Avery’s laptop. The actress Lily Von Clee was being sued by a woman who’d had plastic surgery to make her face exactly like Von Clee’s. The woman claimed she deserved part of Von Clee’s salary. The value of Von Clee’s face, she argued, did not belong to the actress alone.
Lily Von Clee was on the screen, shielding herself from a ring of cameras. Balding men jabbed their microphones at her raised hands.
“I think she should see it as a compliment,” Avery said. She crunched a piece of ice. “Imitation, flattery, et cetera.”
“I don’t know. It seems weird.” The screen flashed to a photo of Von Clee next to the woman’s new face. WHO WORE IT BETTER? the scrolling text asked.
Footsteps on the ceiling. We both looked up.
Avery frowned. “I thought you talked to him.”
“I can’t stop him from walking,” I said.
The footsteps paused. I wondered if Mark were sitting on his kitchen counter too. If his windows were open. Could he hear us?
Avery pursed her lips. “Do you think he’d be fun to sleep with?”
My skin prickled. “I’ve never thought about it.”
She shrugged. “Whatever. That much porn, he’s probably pretty chafed.”
The woman with Lily Von Clee’s face told the crowd of reporters that she wanted compensation. She wanted what was fair. She wanted a job in Hollywood. She wanted us to know she was available at any time.
Past midnight, only just. I woke when the storm broke open. Rain poured down the fire escape, into the palmettos and the Spanish moss. Cold wind swept the room. Shadows I didn’t recognize fogged at the corners of my vision. I was awake, and not awake.
I rose and went to the window. Mark sat on the fire escape, smoking a joint. His body tilted crazily toward the open air. He was close enough for me to touch if I reached my arm through the window. Nothing felt particularly real so there was no reason to be frightened. At least I could not feel fear, anyway.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
He looked up, frowned, as though I had posed a puzzling question.
“Do you know how an alligator hunts?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“It drowns its prey,” he continued. He took a long drag, exhaled. He was soaking
wet. His skin shone. “Drags them under.”
“I know,” I said. “You have to hit their nose to make them let go of you.”
He shook his head. “That’s a myth,” he said. “It doesn’t work. They don’t ever let go. They want their prey to struggle. Adrenaline makes the blood taste sweeter.”
“How would you know?” I snapped.
He held my gaze. “You look cold.”
“Go back upstairs,” I said.
He nodded, stood. The fire escape creaked—a hollow, panicky sound.
I watched him leave: the image of his body unfolding, limb by limb, removing itself from my window frame. Then I slept until late in the morning, when the rain had burned off in the heat and the sky was a flat white again.
Johnno moved in the next Saturday. He and I lugged boxes up the stairs while Avery unpacked them.
“This is so exciting!” She looked up from a suitcase full of computer cords. She’d paused in the middle of filming a video to help us, and had only removed half a face of makeup. Depending on which side you were on, she was two different Averys. It was startling. As though she had peeled away a layer of skin.
“Babe, where should I put my DVDs?”
I took the box from him. Creature from the Black Lagoon sat on the top. The monster and the heroine wore the same shade of lipstick. I’d always thought Julia Adams was a poor choice—she seemed too trusting, even for horror, even for the 1950s.
Avery plucked up the case. With her head tilted down I only saw the made-up part of her face: a glittery eyelid; deep shadows under buffed cheekbones. She looked up. The whole of her face tilted in and out of focus. I focused on a point under her left eye.
“You know, there’s a feminist reading that says this movie is all about identification between the woman and the monster,” she said. “The scientist lady is this horrifying outlier shriveling boners left and right.”
“I’ll just put those in my room,” I said.
Johnno wrapped his arms around me. His belly pressed against my back.
“This is such a big step for us,” he said. “Moving in together.”
“You’re moving in,” I said. “I live here.”
“Same difference.” He nuzzled my neck. I could feel how sweaty he was but couldn’t smell it—instead I caught a whiff of something light, and floral. Gardenias.
Early in the evening we ordered pizza and ate it sitting on the bedroom floor. Avery was cooped up in her room filming a video. The apartment was quiet, for once a fresh breeze drifting about the rooms, aided by low-humming box fans. I began to stop feeling the hard pit of dread that had made my armpits sweat and my stomach hurt since I’d called Johnno and told him he could move in. I began to feel that perhaps it hadn’t been a mistake. This was just what people did.
Johnno leaned his head on my shoulder.
“They’re making Kaia the Snack Server Star of the Month this time,” he said. His voice was sorrowful. “I thought for sure I was going to get it again.” He lifted his head; his face was streaked in tears. “I tried really hard.”
I was struck by sudden tenderness—and was at the same time aware that where once his tears would have spurred me to cruelty, they were only affecting now. Johnno’s grief: I could build a future around those moments of mothering compassion. I could make a home of it for us.
“Oh Johnno,” I said. “You’ll get it next time. I know you will.”
“They know how good you are,” I said. “You’re so much better than me. I suck as a Snack Server.”
He wiped his face. “It’s all so fucking ridiculous, isn’t it? They’re not our friends. They’re customers. We feed them corn-dogs on a stick.”
I turned, kissed him. He hesitated, then responded, quickly, heat rising through his shirt. He pinned me to the floor. I drew my dress up around my hips and tugged off my underwear. Johnno mumbled something, his lips uncomfortably wet and breath loud in my ear; my hip joints popped as his weight pressed down.
This could be the right thing. Johnno in my arms, around me. This felt good, the way our bodies fit so snugly. Those initial frictions, every time—too tight, too hard, too dry, too long, too hot, too smothering—all just momentary concerns, thoughts I could ignore until eventually I would surface into the moment of realization that Johnno and I were fucking and it was good, it was good, it had been good the whole time. I had always been able to trust that Johnno was all right because my body told me so.
Johnno moved inside me. Next door I could hear Avery murmuring to herself. I imagined thousands of people at their laptops watching as she painted flesh-colored streaks onto her face. Next she would buff them in, languorous circles on her cheeks and forehead. A juicy streak of lipstick. Pink, or coral. As she worked she would instruct. I am putting on mascara now. I am concealing. I am adding definition. I am finishing my face.
Tuesday evening at Exxtras was lobster bites in little plastic cups. I camped out near Paper Products / Tissue. This was a quiet aisle. I liked the towering shelves of jumbo-sized Kleenex boxes and 72-for-$10 paper towels. They were almost like trees.
The lobster bites were bright red. We weren’t supposed to eat the samples but I popped one in my mouth anyway. It was rubbery, and salty. I didn’t think this was what real lobster tasted like.
Even in the warehouse’s air conditioning, I was sweating through my uniform t-shirt. Damp smiles underscored my breasts.
“Snacks? Snacks?” I thrust my plate toward the Exxtras friends. The friends floated serenely behind their carts laden with toilet paper and soap, fishing tackle and televisions. Nobody wanted to eat anything.
At the end of my shift I drove home along the river route. With the windows down I could smell the swamp and sawgrass. I wanted to be somewhere open and dark. I wanted to be somewhere I could not be seen.
In the apartment Johnno and Avery were making grilled cheese sandwiches. She buttered the pan; he flipped the bread. I thought of sneaking past them to my bedroom but they caught me at the door.
“Making food for my woman,” Johnno said. He maneuvered an elaborate flick with his wrist, flipped the sandwich high. The pan hissed on impact. Avery danced away from the spits of butter. I stood awkwardly at the door, but neither moved away from the stove. “I’ll be right back.” In my bedroom I yanked off my uniform and pulled on sweatpants, a fresh t- shirt. My face felt greasy and swollen. I padded to the bathroom but, halfway, paused at Avery’s door.
Her floor was bare save for her mattress, with a quilt tucked neatly over the top. A rolling rack of clothes. Next to the bed were several milk crates: this was where Avery kept her makeup. There was a low table with her laptop and a mirror. The spotlight was tucked in a corner.
I knelt in front of the table. The laptop was open, the video platform ready for recording. I looked at my reflection in the mirror. The longer I stared the more I felt that, even without adding makeup, my features were sharpening and yet becoming more distant, more disparate. I could see more clearly the distinct shapes of my eyes, my nose, the way my brows curved, as though each part were individual elements that had nothing to do with one another. I blinked. An alternative face peered back at me. Was this what I looked like?
There was a little tube of lipstick next to the laptop. I uncapped the bullet and drew a quick slash across my lips. Rose. I didn’t look like me, but I didn’t look wrong either.
“Faye?” Johnno calling—I wiped my lips roughly with my shirtsleeve.
After dinner we played cards at the kitchen table. Tongues of heat lightning flickered in the window. Avery dealt, and cheated every time. She thought I didn’t know. I could count the extra cards in her hand.
“Rummy!” She spread her cards. She was so happy when she won.
Footsteps on the ceiling—I watched Johnno and Avery look up in unison. Like their heads were pulled by the same invisible string. They followed Mark’s steps across his kitchen. I wished they would stop.
Avery collected our cards.
“You know what?” she said. “I’m going to seduce Mark. Yes, I am.” She shuffled, cards falling into a neat bridge. “I am going to make love to our neighbor.”
Johnno laughed. “Are you serious? I thought you hated him.”
“I’ve decided the best way to know a man is to fuck him,” Avery said. “Or at least it’ll get him under control.”
She looked at me as she said that. I could see a faint stripe of foundation at her hairline that she hadn’t washed off. I pulled my gaze away from hers and shrugged. “I don’t think he’ll go for it.”
“Why not?” Avery snapped the cards. “I’m hot, I’m good in bed. I don’t think he’ll say no.”
“What’s he done to you?” I asked.
Johnno put his hand on mine. I had a vision of taking a steak knife from the counter and driving it through his hand, through mine. I imagined what it would be like to be pinned to the table that way.
Now Avery shrugged. “If you have a problem with it…” She raised her eyebrows. Oh, she could bite when she wanted.
“Nope.” I picked up my hand of cards. The queen winked at me. Under the table Johnno nudged my knee with his, and when Avery turned her attention to her own cards, he licked his lips at me.
Late that night I climbed through the bedroom window. The fire escape squawked mightily when I set foot on it and I turned quickly to see if Johnno would wake, but he did not so I stepped further, feeling my way into the air. Though it was the dead of night, black sky and black treetops and a black strip of the river leading out to the sea, I felt exposed: as though, pinned to the side of the building, everyone in the city was looking and could see me. My hands shook with nerves.
I moved upward. The smell of rust was strong: I was young, drinking from a well on a farm in Ahoskie. Fields of mud and peat and scrub oak windbreaks tangling the middle distance. That water—the taste of copper so sharp it was like blood. But cold, and clear.
I knocked on Mark’s window. His shadow approached. He slid the window up.
“Can I come in?”
His bedroom was orderly, contained. I pictured the boxes in my own room below, stacked high and deep with Johnno’s belongings.
I thought I should offer some explanation for my presence but none came to mind; or at least, none that I could adequately shape into a reasonable thought. I wanted to say something about the lobster bites at Exxtras. I wanted to ask if he’d ever eaten imitation seafood on a toothpick. But I didn’t know where he worked—if, wherever that was, he had ever been made employee of the month. Did Mark know what cheap plastic gloves felt like when you’d worn them for six hours straight?
My lungs were webby with want, swamped with it, but there was nothing to say. I wanted to feel at home in my life. I wanted to drink Ahoskie well water with an old blue tick dog at my feet. I wanted to burn Exxtras to the ground.
Mark watched me quietly.
“Sleep with me,” I said.
He gave me a shrewd look. “You don’t really like me,” he said.
I tried to feign protest, but his raised eyebrow shut me up quick. “That’s not totally incorrect,” I conceded. “But that doesn’t matter.”
“I guess not,” he said. He tilted his head; a thick stream of annoyance coursed through me—his inability to put forth the effort into standing straight, into controlling his own body.
Mark seemed to reach some agreement with himself. He stepped closer. “Take off your clothes.”
I was only wearing shorts and a sweatshirt. I didn’t want to leave them crumpled on the floor so I folded them quickly before straightening up to meet his gaze.
He watched me, stared freely. I could see he’d grown hard. I felt myself getting wet. There was a tide moving in me, rising quickly.
“Close your eyes,” he said.
My skin jumped. “Why?”
“I’m going to take your picture,” he said.
Blackness. I could suddenly hear things very clearly. It was like being underwater— the sensation of emptiness around me, my movements slowed. Mark’s breath on my face made me shrink back; he snickered. I heard a small click from his phone. I wanted to see what Mark looked like looking at me, and opened my eyes quickly, but only could blink dumbly in the dark, trying to adjust.
Mark was sliding his phone back into his pocket. “Okay,” he said gently. “You can put your clothes back on.”
I was startled. “What?”
“This is enough,” he said. My heart boiled.
“I would think with all that porn you’d want the real thing once in a while. Maybe you’re fine being alone, though,” I snapped.
He moved so fast: up against me, his thumb pressed into the base of my neck.
“You are not going to goad me into fucking you,” he said. “What do you think I am?”
The floorboards popped beneath us. I froze.
“Talk more quietly,” I hissed.
“No,” he said, bluntly. “That is not my problem.”
“Mark—” I could see he was serious. “Come on.”
He shook his head. “Are you doing something wrong, or aren’t you?”
I hated his hand on me. It was not his business what I was doing—and the truth was that what I was doing was so far from my life that it wasn’t really my life at all. Nothing in my life was my life. It wasn’t anybody’s life, in fact.
I dressed and went to the window but now, looking down, was too nervous to climb, so Mark let me out the front door. The elevator smelled like cabbage and made an uncomfortably loud rattle when it reached my floor.
Mark, who’d ridden with me, touched my shoulder lightly when I stepped out. “Come upstairs sometimes,” he said. “We can talk. I know you like cards.”
I didn’t look back at him. The front door was unlocked—Avery, blessedly negligent as always—I slipped inside. Deep in sleep, Johno moved aside peaceably when I crawled into bed. All night I remained awake, watching the fire escape through the window to see if any silhouette appeared, but none did.
In the morning Johnno left for Exxtras. I kept my eyes closed while he fussed in the mirror with his uniform. Several times I heard his footsteps approach the bed, though in the end he left without attempting to wake me. For a while after, I lay still: he was prone to leaving things behind.
Avery was in the kitchen peeling an avocado. I watched while she dug into the soft flesh with a spoon.
“It was quiet upstairs last night,” she said. I did not respond. She examined the green-smeared spoon carefully before continuing. “First time in a while that Mark hasn’t been moving around all night.”
“Sounds like he finally got the message, then.”
“You must have been very effective.”
I gave her an even look. “Maybe.” We stood in our respective corners of the kitchen, leaning against the counters. It had been a week since Avery and I were alone together in the apartment and I realized in that short space of time it was as though she had changed entirely. Or perhaps it was me. There was something impersonal between us that, despite her bare face and morning breath and the fleck of avocado on her chin, all things I’d seen and taken for granted for months, the weft of our intimacy, I now could not see behind. Loneliness choked up in me, a great black well of it. If I opened my mouth a howl might break out.
And then she spoke, and that feeling vanished. I was weak with relief. “I’m going to put my face on,” she said.
I followed her down the hallway. She looked back at me once curiously as I entered her bedroom close behind her but she seemed to accept my presence. We both sank down in front of her computer station.
Avery busied herself with her makeup, the bags softly poofing out powder and scent as the contents shifted. There was sunlight on her face. She looked beatific.
The echo of a howl rolled through my chest. I watched Avery pick up a brush and test the fringe with her thumb.
“Does all of this make you feel good?” I asked.
She was staring at herself in the tiny mirror. She tilted her head, answered without looking at me. “It’s like, I’m becoming myself. The way I see my face inside my head. So then when I’m done, things match.”
“What about the people watching?”
She shrugged. “People will pay to look at anything. It doesn’t bother me that it’s my face. They wouldn’t recognize me in real life, anyway.”
I was surprised at this. “Really?”
“Sure. Everything always looks different on the computer, on television, anywhere. You could pass by, like, Lily Von Clee on the street and you’d never know. Everyone has an idea of what a certain person looks like, or what they look like.” She shook her head. “But it’s not ever really correct.”
I thought about this. Did I know what Lily Von Clee really looked like? Could I remember the color of Johnno’s eyes? I surreptitiously touched my chin, testing its shape.
“Actually, wait.” Avery frowned. “I’m out of concealer. Shit.” She stood, reaching for her purse. “CVS has it—I’ll be back in twenty.”
She left. I heard the front door open, close.
The howl shuddered its way up to my throat. What had Mark done with the photograph? I imagined him looking at it, masturbating, perhaps right now. He would know what the texture of my skin felt like. He would know what I smelled like when I was aroused.
I flipped open Avery’s laptop. It was easy to navigate to her broadcast page and turn on the recording program.
She and I were almost the same shade, pale skin traced by similar freckles. I shook the bottle of foundation and poured some out onto the back of my hand.
“Now,” I said, testing the sound of my voice in the empty room, “I’m going to pat on my first layer.”
The number of viewers was static at seventeen. Then the number ticked up. Eighteen. A few moments later, twenty-three.
One side first, then the other. I kept my eyes trained on the mirror, occasionally glancing at the blinking red recording light on the laptop as I smoothed the makeup onto my skin, watching my features blur into a monotone.
“Let’s put on some lipstick.”
I uncapped the coral bullet. The color went on creamy, thick.
Something inside me was pacing, watching the edges of the river. I was me and not me. I was here and not here. I carefully traced my lips. I was putting on my face.
Fifty-four viewers. Sixty-seven. Eighty.
And the whole while, as I tapped out powder and brushed gently at my face, I was floating up, up away from myself. The whole while I floated out the open window up to the roof, and kept going, over the city, past the antebellum quarter and the docks, around the bell-topped steeple and live oaks and individual, odd palms that rattled their leaves like clusters of bones—I kept going.
And eventually I met the river and went further. Out beyond the river, the fork, the salt estuary, to the marshes, where the endless acres of reeds, eight feet tall, whipped and howled in the wind and eventually, without much notice, became the sea.
Bridget Apfeld is a writer and educator. Her fiction and essays can be found in journals including Able Muse, Brevity, The Conium Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and PANK. A native of Wisconsin, she currently lives in Austin, Texas.