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Tag Archives: fiction
It’s almost here . . .
. . . Submissions Day! Get those subs in! We’re waiting to read your fiction, non-fiction, and poetry — no theme, no worries. Get it in by Monday.
Fiction by Jared Yates Sexton — “Monsieur and Mademoiselle”
Hello hello from the NEAT. front. As a reminder that our deadline is fast approaching and maybe a little bit of an incentive, here is the featured fiction piece from our Spring 2014 issue: “Monsieur and Mademoiselle” by Jared Yates Sexton. You can check out the interview that Liz did with Jared here.
Monsieur and Mademoiselle
Jared Yates Sexton
Angry and hungover, she says We’ve got to stop this.
She’s on the living room floor scrubbing a stain. Behind her a trail of glass and half a dozen overturned books. This is her natural way of spending a Saturday afternoon, how she goes about once we finally drag ourselves out of bed. I’m tending to the bottle of Tylenol in the bathroom and gulping down handful after handful of water and hoping the thudding will slow down.
You always make a big deal out of it, I say between gulps. Everyone had a good time.
Nobody had a good time, she says. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, she says, but less and less people come every time we throw one of these things. Word’s getting around just how screwed up we are.
I give myself a good healthy stretch and then scratch all the right places. In the living room I stand in the doorway and watch her work that stain. I can’t remember if it’s wine or blood or both. I’m gonna make some breakfast, I tell her. You want some breakfast?
Terry, she says to me. God damn it. That’s always your answer. I’ll make some breakfast. Sometimes breakfast doesn’t cut it.
The kitchen itself is lined with empty bottles and the sink full of dishes. I open the fridge and look inside. Most everything is gone. We throw the kind of shindigs where people help themselves. They eat chunks of cheese, grapes, hell, the butter if they’re feeling up to it. There’s not much left except a pound of sausage and a roll of instant biscuits. I grab those and the bag of flour out of the cabinet next to the fridge. Then the phone rings.
Hello, I hear her say when she answers. She’s silent for a second and then starts in with the apologies. Oh god, she says, I’m so sorry. We’re so sorry, Pam. I mean it, we’re sorry. You know how it gets. People start drinking and things happen.
She’s apologizing to Pam, her friend from the book club. Pam always comes to these things and ends up getting offended. She’s got real sensitive sensibilities. Her husband’s no better. Last night I was giving him some shit about being from Oklahoma and he got so wound up he eventually stormed off.
No, I hear her say, Terry didn’t mean anything by it. He forgets what’s polite conversation. No, she says. No, I don’t think so. No.
I get the sausage frying in a pan on the stove and look out the window over the sink. Our deck is always the worst. People go out there and smoke and leave their butts and drinks. Sometimes they break the chairs or the rails. That’s usually where I like to go when it gets too stuffy or need a moment to myself. Last night there was a fine thing out there smoking these long, thin cigarettes by the woodpile. She came with this guy I know from work. We all call him Tiny. I’ll let you figure it out. Anyway, she came in with him and hung up their coats. Then she offers me her hand, the way women used to do, and waits for me to give it a kiss. She called me monsieur. Pleasure to make your acquaintance, monsieur, she said.
Mademoiselle, I said back to her.
Well, she says coming into the kitchen with the sponge she’d been using on the carpet, that was Pam. She said I’m not invited to the book club anymore. Are you happy?
Am I happy? I say. I’m looking out at the back porch, at a spot just over the rail. There’s a paper plate barely hanging on. It must’ve rained this morning because it’s turned soggy and frowns at the edges. Right there is where that woman was smoking her cigarettes. No, I say, I can’t say I’m happy.
Well, she says, you shouldn’t be. This is getting to the point of no return, you know. It’s getting to a place where something’s got to give.
In the frying pan on the stove the sausage is browned and I reach for the flour and get a nice and thick gravy going. Then I remember the biscuits and line them up in dots in the pan and set the oven up. Pam’s boring, I say. And her husband’s no better.
Terry, she says.
They can both go to fucking Oklahoma for all I care, I say.
You know, she says, fixing breakfast isn’t going to solve everything. You always think it will, but it won’t.
You want to put the coffee on? I say to her.
Are you listening to me? she says. I can’t be married to somebody who turns into a monster.
All right, I say, I’ll get the coffee going.
She storms off to the living room and stands there and huffs. That’s what she does. She’s like a child sometimes in how she gets her anger out. I kid you not, you get her upset enough and she’ll pound the table like an upset toddler. It’s a sight to see.
The coffee’s going now and the sausage and gravy are warming and the biscuits are in and I’m standing here feeling about a thousand times better. I’ve got to the point where I can shake a hangover in less than an hour. All I’ve got to the do is drink a shit-ton of water and focus on things. Right now it’s that spot out there. I walked out last night and that woman was smoking her cigarette and I said to her, smooth as I could manage, Well, hello there mademoiselle.
She turned and gave me a smile. I’d said the secret word, I think. I picked up on her code. Why monsieur, she said, fancy meeting you in a place like this.
That was that. What happened next was sealed from that point on. Looking at that spot, next to the woodpile, I can only imagine there’s probably a place where the grass has been pushed down. An imprint of her. Probably half of that cigarette she was smoking. I remind myself to go out there later and see if I can find it. It’s something I wouldn’t mind keeping around.
I’m sorry, she says, collapsing in a chair at the kitchen table. My head won’t stop pounding and I couldn’t feel worse. Didn’t mean to make a big deal out of it, she says.
It’s all right, I say.
The food’s pretty much done. The biscuits are a little undercooked, on the doughy side, but that’s how she likes them. I get a plate loaded up, split them long-wise, and ladle on the sausage and gravy. There’s steam rising up and when I set it in front of her with a cup of coffee she’s smiling.
Eat up, I say. It’ll help.
It will, she says. It always does.
I get myself a plate and grab some pepper. I’d prefer the whole thing spicier, stronger, but she doesn’t care for the heat. Sometimes you have to do things for other people. Once I’ve got it covered I grab my mug from the dishwasher and have a seat. She’s already digging in, forking big wads of biscuit into her mouth and swallowing happily.
Maybe later, she says, we can go to the movies.
Yeah, I say, still thinking about the woodpile. That’d be nice.
It would, she says. We haven’t been in a long time.
No ma’am, I say.
Maybe we can get gussied up, she says. Put on some nice clothes and grab some dinner and then go catch a movie.
I’d like that, I say.
Would you? she says.
I would, I say.
She gives me a look then like all is forgiven. Her plate is half-empty and I can tell the hangover’s starting to lift. She doesn’t care about Pam anymore. About that damned book club. And she sure as shit doesn’t care about the carpet in the living room or anything else. Everything that has passed has passed and we’re squared right away. She even stretches her leg under the table and traces my knee with the point of her foot. This is her signal she likes to give sometimes. It says, Let’s finish this up and start something else. I take a sip of my coffee and nod, let her know I’ve picked up her code.
And then, as we’re about to leave for the other room, the phone rings one more time.
Hello from Cincinnati!
This past weekend, we went adventuring in Cincinnati and posted NEAT. flyers around the Clifton, Mt. Adams, and Northside areas.
So, if you’re new to NEAT., maybe saw the flyer and are stopping by to see what we’re all about, welcome! Pull up a chair, grab a drink, stay awhile. You can peruse our previous issues here.
We just had our first anniversary, which is weird and cool. We’ve put out four issues so far, and we’re hella proud of every one of them. Here’s to many more!
Another reminder to one and all: our submissions deadline is rapidly approaching! Get us your fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and photography to the theme of desire. Can’t wait to go through these. View all of our guidelines here.
We’re Famous! . . . Kind of
Hello lovely writers, readers, and whiskey drinkers!
Stopping in to give a brief checkup on things happening mag-side and with a reminder that our submissions are STILL OPEN until August 31! Feel free to check out the Call for Submissions and send us your best fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and photography to the tune of desire. (Oooh sounds fun!) Can’t wait to read and see your work.
Some of you may have already seen this, but Ben from Blank Fiction Magazine interviewed us last month! We had whiskey sours and talked about all things NEAT.: what we like to see in our submissions, things to do and NOT do when submitting, and the future of NEAT.
Check it out below! (You can also check it out at Blank Fiction’s website here.)
Another exciting piece of news is that NEAT. now has a listing on Duotrope! (Yay!)
That seems to be it for now. Don’t forget to check back in periodically for more updates and prodding to submit. And as always, keep it #neat.
Wow, it’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks. First of all, submissions closed last night at midnight. We had another record number of submissions. And by record I mean more than double the amount we got for even the winter issue.
Second, we reached 1,000 downloads total for our first three issues! As of this post, we have 1054, to be exact. This is a milestone that we hope is an indicator of the good things to come for us. Goal: get 1,000 downloads on the upcoming Spring issue alone. Tell your friends, your enemies, that woman on the bus you sit across from every day. Get the word out!
As we come up on the one-year mark (we still have a couple months, but hey, this is our fourth issue, so it almost counts), we keep thinking about where we started and where we are now — what happened in the middle that catapulted us to this place? The answer: you happened. Readers, writers, photographers. We are indebted to you. Thank you to everyone who submitted and to everyone who continues to read the magazine. We couldn’t do this without the support of the literary community.
That’s all for now! We’re looking forward to sitting down with a pile of your hopefully maddening submissions.
TM and Elizabeth
The Winter 2013 – 2014 Issue is here!
Great news! We’re finally done putting together the winter issue, and it’s beautiful (of course). Check it out here.
And of course with a new issue comes a new call for submissions! What’s our theme for spring? Read our call and guidelines to find out, and then send us your work. We’re ready to read and see your madness.
Now, we have a couple of exciting bits of news to share with our loyal readers and newcomers alike. We have welcomed writer and fellow graduate student Alex G. Friedman aboard as Consulting Editor. Alex will be reading the submissions that the two of us don’t necessarily agree on and will serve as the deciding vote. We trust him completely with our magazine and can’t wait to work with him for the spring issue. Check out his biography on our Editors page and be sure to welcome him to the team!
For this winter issue, along with bringing Alex on board and diving into the poetic deep end as far as accepted work goes, we decided to do something different with our website. As you can see, at the top of this page we have added two tabs: TMI and Liz’s Pick. We both chose an author to interview and showcase on the website (one poet and one fictioneer), and you’ll find those interviews on those tabs. We’re excited to share these authors’ work with everyone!
Thank you again to our lovely readers for continuing to share the magazine and help us grow. It means so much to us — this is what we love to do, and we’re happy that you’re enjoying it too.
Okay, that’s all for now. Back to #neatingout.
With a fabulous first issue under our belts, NEAT. is growing and changing almost every day. The ending of the learning process of our first issue has led to the beginning of a new reading period and with that new phase under way, we have a new theme for the Fall 2013 issue: endings, or even endings that come from beginnings. Autumn, especially literarily, is a season of transitions. Every ending starts a new beginning and every new beginning comes to an end–whichever the case may be, whatever the genre may be, we want to read about it. See our Call for Submissions for more info.
Keep it classy, keep it neat.
Welcome to NEAT! We are a Midwest-based magazine looking to publish our first issue. We are excited to invite authors, poets, and photographers to submit work centered around the theme of summer vacations. Any and every story, poem, photo that you have to show us — send it our way! Head on over to our Call for Submissions for more information. We are looking forward to reading and seeing your work.