FNS: In Pursuit of Finer Things by Tiffany Wang

Every Friday night we feature a short story, essay, personal narrative, poem,
spoken word, or short film for your enjoyment.

Tonight’s flash fiction is from Tiffany Wang

You catch him cheating. That’s how it ends, with you walking in on a tangle of arms, legs, breasts, skin. A shrill squeak of laughter from the girl he was fucking three seconds ago – yes, she’s lovely, and, yes, you notice. A patter of stutters from him, as he gropes for the blankets frantically. You’re frozen against the doorway, knees locked and purse still in hand. In your head, you’re sifting through months of hidden text messages, whispered phone calls. You stand there. You wait.

He apologizes afterwards. He apologizes ten times a day, seven days a week. He buys you tulips, saying it was the flower that was on your restaurant table during your first date (they were carnations, not tulips). He tells you he adores you every morning when you wake up, on the bed where he fucked the twenty-one year old girl. He stops smoking. He tells you he was stupid, weak. He says that true love never dies – that the four years of undergrad and service trips and travels have to mean something. He sends gifts to your workspace: chocolate, stuffed animals, caramel peanut clusters. He writes you letters like you’re in the 1800s, titling each one with your given name, the one that only he calls you because he swore off your nicknames freshman year:

Dearest Joelle

And, in the end, it isn’t enough. He moves out on a sweltering summer day, when the sun seeps and lingers in the smallest pores. “I’ll miss you,” he says, as he drags his suitcase past the threshold. You cross your arms and don’t say anything at all. Only afterwards, when you see the yellow cab peel out of the apartment complex, do you fold into a pile on the kitchen floor. You cry into a frayed orange dishtowel, because you’re remembering the nights where you two stayed up, tossing popcorn at ridiculous infomercials blazing across the television. Days, drinking absurdly large cups of coffee while flipping through classical novels. His lips against your forehead, thumb on your cheek.

You hate yourself for it, but you’ll miss him too.

You put the bed on Craigslist, and spend long evenings at Ikea, shopping for a new one.

You have resolve, you have resolve, you can do this, you can do this.

Then you get the call. Four thirty-six AM, and the shriek of the telephone sends you bolting up. You pick it up cautiously, because if it’s a goddamn telemarketer you’re going to lose your shit, amidst a haze of blankets, quiet dreams, and a roaring A.C. You rasp into the phone, your voice blurring together in sleep and anger.

Instead, the answer:

“Joelle? Joelle…”

Tiffany Wang is a freshman attending the University of Pennsylvania. She has been published in numerous journals, including Crack the Spine, Gone Lawn, and the Blue Monday Review, among others. In her spare time, she drinks too much coffee and explores as much of Philadelphia as possible.


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