A Town Full of Holes (A Short Story)

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Mitzi had stared in horror. Her husband had laughed, as if it actually made him happy to see her dance, and maybe it did. They used to dance in the living room like that, wildly and comically. Can I see it? And the Grinch snapped at her and made such a terrible face that she cried and ran away. What is this, the Army?

I want to live! I want love! I like desperate people. But when a kind Who mother—she saw what had happened—brought him some food, he realized he had to come back out.

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Which was too much for the Grinch. He went to his room, opened the window, summoned his Winged Assistants, and fled back to his cave. The murderer, the serial killer, had been cornered as he loomed above his terrified victim. Carol turned off the TV. Somehow, somewhere inside her, love and torture had got squished together. As the idiot box dutifully confirmed, it was always happening, of course it was happening: torture disguised as love and healing, and sometimes the other way around. Love would always try to love, and torture could only torture.

She could not think of what else the Winged Assistant could say about the Grinch, so she just went to bed. She woke early the next morning and decided to go for a walk. It was clear and cold when she started out, but clouds rolled in suddenly and it started to snow. The snow made the town quiet; it seemed as if the only people on the street were old men walking heavily, as though they were coming to the end of a long journey. The sudden snowfall had a bleak magic that touched a simple place in her: the need for and love of home.

She heard church music, so faint on the wind that it was like something at the very bottom of a half-remembered dream: not beautiful but mysterious, a toiling incantation, with voices surging under it and a lone voice shouting over it, vibrating between supplication and command. Baptist, she thought, and turned intuitively down a side street toward the sound. It was a street of houses that looked put together as if they were toys, fast and with secret, cockeyed affection.

One of them, originally white, had been roughly painted with giant superheroes speeding in fight mode across its walls, their faces blurred and their shapes too botched to be recognizable except—great red Christ!


The house was mischievous and pagan, but still it seemed in league with the church just a few doors down. Its main door was open and thronged with people, and the organ music poured out, toiling and mysterious no more, rising with ease and cheer. Carol stopped in her tracks. The Acceptance Journey! Her heart beat with amazement and she impulsively crossed the street, hesitated, then got in line behind a cluster of middle-aged women, who were being greeted fulsomely by the gentleman at the door.

Then one of them noticed Carol with a quick up-and-down. Carol was suddenly timid. The man did not look at all like a pastor to her. He was slender, straight-backed, and youthful in appearance, martially impervious to the cold, with a strict manner that was accentuated by his suit. Carol now felt confusion on top of timidity, and she must have communicated it because he appraised her sideways before she even got to him, and when he met her eyes it was with the look of someone assessing a possible problem. But, even with those eyes, he took her hand and spoke with sharp, shapely kindness.

The women were all wearing skirts and high-heeled boots. She was wearing black jeans and a gray parka. Glad to finally see you , sir! Politely, Pastor Robertson turned back to Carol. Is it something particular you are needing today, Karen? I saw it advertised on a billboard on.

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A look of understanding came to the man, followed by an adamant adjustment of his expression. I saw your boy out on the field the other day, he looked great! Carol blushed; she opened her mouth and tried to speak. But the pastor turned away to greet a very old white woman hobbling on a walker, assisted by a young light-skinned black woman with a kind and intrepid face. The old woman looked down with pulled-in lips, concentrating all her effort on moving forward, but the young woman faced Pastor Robertson with confident expectation, which he answered without missing a beat.

So glad to see you, my dear! She felt rebuffed and bewildered. She walked all the way around the block, Googling vainly and repeatedly; when she arrived back at the church, the door was closed. Instead she closed her eyes and listened to the music and prayed. The music stopped. She opened her eyes. She heard the pastor speaking but could not make out his words. The snow was sticking; the wind had come up. She decided to get something warming in her for the walk home. It was cheap and colorless, except for orange-and-white-checked tablecloths, but cakes were displayed, and pies with red filling; the overhead heater roared.

In the seconds it took to walk to an open table, her glasses fogged, and she took them off before removing her coat. She was cleaning them with a napkin when Dana spoke to her from the next table, a welcoming greeting completely contradicted by her expression, which was that of someone trapped.

She looked at the laminated menu already on the table; eggs, pancakes, fruit salad, cottage cheese, bagels. It was unmistakable; she did want to talk. Some time alone. Carol said she was sorry. The waitress brought coffee. Carol ordered a vegetable omelette with fries. Dana apologized for oversharing; she asked what Carol was doing for Christmas. Carol revealed that she was spending it with her sister, who thought that she, Carol, was crazy. You seem independent and tough. She left her husband, too. But he was an asshole. To their child. In my marriage, I was the asshole.

Dana looked at Carol directly, eyes creepy with supposition. Dana shrugged and began to meticulously pick the raisins out of her rice pudding. She feels a lot. About my sister. It should be fun. They sat silently for a long moment, Carol picking at her fries, Dana finishing her coffee. She hated the bombastic song, but, still, after the dream the video had seemed to her like a sign, a sign that plainly said, If Lloyd can just quit his job and do what he wants, then I should do what I want, too. They got their checks; Dana offered her a ride home and she accepted.

It was a struggle getting out of the parking lot, and the streets were slick. At the intersections, heavy old traffic signals swayed on their wires. He developed a special relationship with a client who would actually pay him to go on business trips with him, basically to keep him off drugs. So he decided to quit his job at the clinic and become a life coach. But he decided life coaching was where it was at.

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He thought he could get back into acting while being a life coach. He thought anything could happen. And so did I. In a different way. Carol went to the tree and saw what they were talking about: the puzzling tracks of what was perhaps a very large bird. And at the edge of her vision she could see, or half see, a Winged Assistant, stork-legged, swift, and subtle, coming to check the tree. It would help to know that you believe he can! Carol put the letter in an envelope and went out in the car to look for a long pair of barbecue tongs.

The snow had begun to come down again, in gigantic flakes, soft, slow blobs that reminded her of Oobleck. She found some excellent tongs in the housewares section of the humbly striving Tops. As she was doing that, Dana texted her and asked if she would like to come to dinner. She said yes, and picked up a bottle of wine at the liquor store that gave a discount for shopping at Tops.

It was a low-key dinner of lasagna, salad, and garlic bread; they held hands and prayed before they ate. Carol glanced at the girls; Estella was looking supercilious, Ada was eating her bread with greasy, dream-faced absorption. Dana said that there was a possibility that the woman Carol was replacing might not come back, which would mean that Carol might be able to stay on, if she wanted.

Nobody told me that! The plows had come and banked the snow, which was now falling lightly or perhaps just drifting. She went to the wooded edge of the empty lot beside her place and found a light bough that had come off a small pine tree. She walked back into the street, sweeping her tracks with the bough. The night was clear, and she could see stars.

Snow rested thickly on each tree branch. She thought of her prayers. She felt wonder and pain. She concentrated on sweeping away her tracks and then on gripping the letter firmly in the tongs. She stretched her body over the piece of yard between the street and the tree and placed the letter. By Mary Gaitskill December 17, Audio: Mary Gaitskill reads.

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The next evening, there was a letter lying in the lap of the tree. You have healthy habits. I cut church and drove here. Recommended Stories. Sign in.

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  4. Controls feel loose though. Entire levels are designed this way. The map is confusing bordering on useless in a lot of vertical-oriented areas i. Essential equipment is relegated to vendors, which is about the most boring way to earn a reward. Swimming is as tedious as I expected, albeit beautiful.

    And outside the main characters, a lot of the voice acting is surprisingly sub-par. I especially loved the puzzle-centric tombs. The story though. Oh wow, the story. It starts strong.

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