They were making out when he stopped.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“Nothing.” He pulled away, noticed the sunset was dazzling. He wondered if it could break your heart to watch the sun.

“Why did you stop then?”

He shrugged. “Not sure.”

“Is it me? Is it my breath?” She cupped a hand in front of her mouth to check.

“No, Ellen. It’s not a big deal.  Can’t you just give it a rest?”

She looked on the verge of tears. “I’m sorry, Ned. It’s just- well, every time we make out it seems like there’s so much going on. I mean, at least for me there is.”

He nodded, took her hand. “Let’s walk back to my dorm. C’mon.” He put his arm around her.”

“ No- wait.” She moved a step away. “I want to finish.”

He crossed his arms. “Okay, go ahead.”

“Every time we kiss, you stop. It’s like I can feel you shut down. A wall goes up.”

As the remaining traces of sun glowed through her hair, he remembered the moment he first saw her. She was playing acoustic guitar on the lawn of the campus library. Her voice, as she sang “Landslide” rang with confidence, her long wavy hair cascaded over the guitar’s frets. She’d gathered a crowd and halfway through the song, she glanced up and saw him.

He took her hand, traced the lines of her palm. “Remember that day we met?”


“What happened to her? Where’d she go? The woman who sang that song?”

“I’m right here.”

“No, Ellie, you’re not. All this worrying, these doubts. That’s not the girl I met.”

“Oh, how perfect.” Her mouth twitched.  “So, this is about me? Your inability to get aroused-”

He dropped her hand. “Inability to get…?” The freshly cut grass made him miss home.

She nodded. “Isn’t that what you call it?”

“How about two people who thought there was more here than what actually is.”

Her eyes narrowed. “So, that’s it?” She tucked her hair behind one ear.

He wasn’t sure what to say so he said nothing. The sun slipped below the horizon.


About Robert Vaughan

Originally from NY, Robert leads week long National writing retreats at sites like Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Synergia Ranch, and EarthRise IONS. His poems and fiction are published in over 500 print and online magazines, such as Necessary Fiction, BlazeVOX, Los Angeles Weekly, Literary Orphans and Smokelong Quarterly. He is Editor-in-Chief at (b)OINK magazine and leads round- tables for Redoak Writing in Milwaukee. He is six times a Pushcart Prize Nominee and his fiction and poetry have won awards, including a Micro-Fiction runner-up (2012) and twice a finalist in the Gertrude Stein Fiction Award (2013-14). His books are: Microtones (Cervena Barva Press); Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (Deadly Chaps); Addicts & Basements (Civil Coping Mechanisms); RIFT, co-authored with Kathy Fish (Unknown Press), and FUNHOUSE (Unknown Press).
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8 Responses to Landslide

  1. Dez says:

    Poignant and revealing, but just enough. The reader gets to decide what is going on here. Well done.

  2. Angela says:

    Ah…truth and assumptions. X@

  3. Andrea says:

    Oh how that happens repeatedly…silly human race.

  4. Jared says:

    I like this story. I think it should end with him masturbating and her contracting gonorrhea from some shady character. Actually, I think I’ll just write my own story about this. At my current pace it will appear on January 20th.

  5. Tom Froehlich says:

    This really struck a chord with me. Sunset over kissing a girl? LOL. I certainly know what that is about! Very nice dialogue that tells the story very quickly. My stomach actually turned!

  6. Shari says:

    I think you have a wonderful, natural knack with dialogue. I can remember having conversations like these in either role. And the way that the sunset plays into the piece was a nice touch, too. Poor Ellie and Ned, just two more younger adults trying to figure out who they are themselves, and then having to do that in relationship to one another. Not any easy task.

  7. Tutu Ubuntu says:

    what tension in the psyche of Ned does the author develop through Ned’s dialogue in that he calls Ellie both a “girl” and a “woman”? this fascinated me.

  8. david says:

    the landslide brought me down… at the Beacon Theatre Fabbri and I met Kevin Aucoin at the Tori Amos show.. she sang Landslide.. Fabbri, BALLED.. she always cries during at least one song at every show… but the tirade of cursing at Erasure’s RESPECT was the best…


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