from the short story “Toast” by Matt Sumell…

Boy can this Sumell guy write. In this short story from the latest Paris Review Matt Sumell documents the cutting meanness, both funny and sad, of a young man towards a woman as two people find out they are not really suited for the long haul…

Here’s a taste...

Also, one night, when she was standing still and naked and backlit by the bathroom light, I noticed a kind of white, almost invisible fur all over her body. It bothered me. I never said anything about it ’cause I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but she had no problem commenting on how my dick is browner than the rest of me. “It’s like the dark circles around Indian people’s eyes,” she said. I pretended I didn’t care, but I did, but not as much as I cared about her shoes. She always wore high heels, like even on bike rides always, and to the beach and batting cages always, and to a Super Bowl party we went to once. And believe me, it wasn’t so much the height thing, which she thought it was about – it was that I got sick of hearing her clomping around everywhere like a pony. At first I just made little jokes about it, started calling her Trusty and offering her carrots all the time, said things like, “You can lead a lady to water, but you can’t make her sneaky.” Soon enough though, I was promising to shoot her if she ever broke her leg. She got upset, and I said, “It’d be real sad, but I’d have no choice. Sorry.” Then I pointed a finger at her like a pistol and went, Pchoooo.

One Sunday she took an hour getting ready to go to the dog park, and I told her to giddy it the fuck up. She gave me the whole-I-do-this-for-you! thing in the car on the way and I said, “Whoa now. Slow down there, Seabiscuit. If you’re doing it for me, lose the fuckin’ foot ware. It annoys me.”

She got real quiet then, looked out the window at passing stuff, said, “You can just drop me off wherever.”



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