The List

The List

Beth greeted each day with a list of what she didn’t have. There were numerous days, she thought, while sipping her coffee, I’ll create a new list. Her co-worker, Darlene, kept an ongoing list of household chores for her spouse. One time Beth tried to create a list of famous quotes she didn’t want to forget. It was too complicated. Eventually, it seemed Beth careened back to her overall theme: the list of what she didn’t have.

Today her list included:

1)   fucking child support

2)   money, money, money

3)   sex that makes me feel like a woman (not a prostitute)

4)   tell boss no: for e.g. Drew, no, I won’t get you another cup of coffee

It had been five years since her ex disappeared. Just like that. Poof. Well, not exactly, but it felt like that. She’d tried to track him down. It was futile. He’d moved constantly, she had to keep a rolodex just for him. What was he running from? And what about poor Deedee, who seemed to miss her dad more every day.

The phone rang. She knew by the ring it was her sister, Lillian. She sighed.

“Hi, Lil, you caught me in the middle…”

“Huh? Oh, you’re still making those lists?”

“Why do you care? Just be glad you’re not on em.” She made a mental note to find something about Lillian to add.

“I think that’s crazy, Beth. Maybe you have that disorder- what is it? ADA? Or DDT?”

Yeah, I have a disorder. Beth laughed. Been told that so many times it fell on deaf ears. “Thanks, I pay my therapist big bucks for that sort of stuff. Anyhow, what’s up?”

Lillian paused. “Um, did I tell you about this new stuff? It’s called Shimmer Glitter.”

“Shimmer Glitter?” Beth snorted.  “Sounds like something Deirdre and her girlfriends would wear.” Beth glanced at today’s list. “Where’d you buy it?”

Added #5: Shimmer Glitter


About Robert Vaughan

Originally from NY, writer, editor, and workshop leader, his poems and fiction are widely published in print and online magazines, such as Necessary Fiction, BlazeVOX, Connotation Press, Metazen, Thrice, Literary Orphans and Housefire. He is Senior Flash editor at JMWW and Lost in Thought magazines and leads round- tables for Redoak Writing. He is a six times 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 collections are: Microtones (Cervena Barva Press); Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (Deadly Chaps): Addicts & Basements (Civil Coping Mechanisms) and RIFT, co-authored with Kathy Fish (Unknown Press).
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7 Responses to The List

  1. Suzi says:

    My lists generally include things I’m grateful for. Here’s a sampling:
    1) Two healthy children
    2) A loving husband for 25 years
    3) Great and generous friends with great talent
    4) The air I breathe
    5) The United States of America

  2. Andrea says:

    HA! Anger is funny.

  3. david says:

    this is so clear at assisting us in conscience co-creation. We get what we think about. It is the “law” Focus on FABULOUS… sure recognize what it is we don’t want, then give our attention to what it is we DO want. Then giving all our attention to what it is we desire, and all the good things we have, it will put us in a feeling place where there is no room for the unwanted. Thank you for the reflection. Very well done. And for now we remain gratefully incomplete.

  4. Don says:

    No clue what David is on about, but I will say that character Beth’s focusing on what she doesn’t have is not so uncommon for most Americans, maybe for most people. I know I spend a lot more time there than, say, Suzi’s list which is refreshing. Lists in general are an interesting phenomenon. The whole thing leaves me listless. (pun intended).

  5. Tom Froehlich says:

    Bitter, table for one! Nice way to reveal a character. I don’t think i would refer to a rolodex. Didn’t seem to fit. Unless you added it to the list of things she didn’t have.

  6. theprayerlady says:

    WOW how we get lost in ourselves and forget what is all around that’s wonderful. I’m so grateful I’ve moved on from the lists in my mind that were killing me of “not having.” Geeeeeezzzzz I’m grateful for you and our love.
    Love Mom

  7. Shari says:

    I can relate to how Beth feels on certain days. Although I might not greet the day with these lists on my mind, there are certain things about her that I find common in me. The paragraph below the list (1-4) moved pretty fast for me. There is alot of information there about Beth’s past, her spouses disappearance, Deedee, etc. Maybe some of this back story might work in other parts of the story if you decided to make it longer. Nice job, Robert!

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