A Conversation With PEN America Best Debut Short Stories 2019 Author Laura Freudig
“When you feel like you have no power in a relationship, withholding becomes one of the only ways you can maintain the illusion of agency.”
My husband, John, calls me a good mother. He says this with a glint of unease in his eyes, as though he is telling a lie or working a charm. He calls during his coffee breaks—he doesn’t drink coffee, so he has time to talk—and asks, “How is Clint?” and when I say, “Fine,” or “Sleeping,” or “Alive,” he asks, “And how are you, sweetie?” He’s learned that sweetie is a potent word. Still, my answers vary.
I know if he dared, he’d go next door to Humpback Ales after work and drink until I became bearable, which would be at least two hours for him, because he’s a slow drinker. But he’s home every day at 5:07 because he loves Clint, who is named after the ideal country lane where my husband grew up. He wants a similar childhood for his son, who may not be getting it.
The New YorkernotThe Sun
More by this author
Learn about Mathapelo Mofokeng’s short story “The Strong-Strong Winds,” which was selected for ‘Best Debut Short Stories 2021.’
“The most innocent thing you can do is want to create”: Robert J. Dau Prize Winner Isaac Hughes Green
Learn about Isaac Hughes Green’s short story “The First Time I Said It,” which was selected for ‘Best Debut Short Stories 2021.’
Learn about Amy Haejung’s short story “Maria,” which was selected for ‘Best Debut Short Stories 2021.’
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