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
“Maybe being in a disorganized, overstimulated state of mind helped me evoke the anxiety of being on the internet while undergoing a process of ruthless self-evaluation.”
“Speculative fiction at its best is outlandish at first glance, but ends up feeling immediate. That challenge is often what gets me writing—I want to take an absurd premise and see how deep it can go.”
More in this series
“You can fall in love with a place in a way that’s just as made-up and selective as how you fall in love with a person.”
“Some stories just flow out of you and you try to keep up as you write them. This story was not like that.”
“Interracial love has been codified and digitized, and we’ve found that it sells less ads, is less addictive, than its alternative.”