The Test


Now he is holding his breath, waiting, as if he is nine and has broken a special mantelpiece dish. As if her pregnancy is entirely his fault, and he is saying, "I'll never do it again as long as I live, I swear," and also as if he is completely innocent: "It wasn't me. I didn't do it He did it."

Five, six...[David] embarrasses her. Drinking in social situations, he is first obsequious, then boastful, and then more boastful, while everyone else is just normal. He namedrops. Authors he's met, celebrities who have his name in their Blackberrys. As the lead Democratic Party organizer for the 2008 elections, he does know more people than most, but why does it have to matter so much? People seem impressed, but she knows that they're just being polite because they always excuse themselves. But if s worse when he isn't drinking. He either broods all night, one inch from her, as she circuits the party or he claws at her, claims her to the point where it's sweaty and red where his hands have been. She thinks she should want this kind of attention, but it feels desperate and people look at her like they are sorry. She doesn't tell him about all of the parties she goes to anymore.

She runs into their bedroom and grabs her keys, her coat, and her bag. Turning, she sees David in the doorway of the bathroom and he is fingering a button on his shirt. She can't think of a time he's looked more ridiculous and she wants to say something flip like "Ciao" or "Sayonara," wants to kick him in the balls, butcher his beard, or tell him she has just never been a happy person, and tiiat she needs his help. But she can't find any words. The going is all she has. It would mean everything if she could just do it. So, she does it

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The Test


Topic: Wild card, but all stories were required to use the words or phrases "the 2008 elections," "gas prices" and "dog park."

2nd Place

When Clare pulled David into the bathroom, he'd been kneeling on the floor of their bedroom following the instructions on how to set the VCR clock for more than an hour.

Through the pregnancy test's plastic window, they watch the baby blue stripe bleed. She tells him to h...

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