Fiction: "Nothing Extra" by Marly Swick

From Prairie Schooner Literary Magazine

Dec. 31, 1969
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I'm in the process of editing a bunch of new stuff I've been writing, and sometimes one of the best inspirations for trudging forward is to read some enjoyable fiction. Because you know something written well took a lot of work.

From "Nothing Extra," by Marly Swick:

­ The next morning, while it was still dark out, she took a cab to the airport. It was a bleak hour, too much to ask of a friend, even if her mother was dying. The sort of favor you’d ask only of a husband— not an ex-husband—or a wife. She wept quietly in the back seat, hoping her occasional snuffling snorts were muffled by the tinny Bollywood lament emanating from a cd player sitting on the passenger seat next to the turbaned driver. An hour later, when he hoisted her heavy suitcases from the trunk and set them on the ground in front of Midwest Express, he touched her lightly on the arm and said in high school English, ‘‘I am seeing that you are very somber. You are going on a long journey?’’

‘‘My mother’s dying,’’ she said, despite the fact that it was the thought of being a newly single woman (with no one to drive her to the airport at 5 a.m. on a raw, rainy San Francisco morning) that had set off the crying jag, more than the dying mother per se.

The driver bobbed his head elegiacally and then reached through the open door of his cab, unhooked some wooden prayer beads from his rearview mirror, and offered them to her. She shook her head as if to say No, no, I couldn’t possibly, at the same time that she found herself reaching out to accept them. ­



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Ken Brosky


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