KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 3: Spring 2015
Micro-Fiction: 251 words [R]

What to Take

by Thomas E. Kennedy

“If you’re really doing this, do it fast,” she said and stared at him with her mouth set in an expression he had never seen before. He couldn’t describe it, but he felt very strange. He wanted to ask her something about her mouth, wanted to have her stand beside him at the mirror and say, “Look at your mouth. Please, can you explain it to me, would you?” How to say it so she knew he sincerely wanted to know, was not being ironic?

But as his lips parted, she said, “You are going to regret this. Some day you will awake painfully to this.” And she spun, moving quickly out the bedroom door.

He heard her footfalls along the hall runner to the kids’ room, her voice speaking softly to them. He sighed. He ran it all through again in his mind, but could see no path around this. There was only the one way forward.


What to take?

From the closet shelf, he lifted down the smallest of their three pieces of luggage, snapped open the brass clasps, paused, sighed again, and stared out the window at the magnolia tree, lush with blossoms, afternoon sun brilliant on the green lawn. He poked his finger into the corner of his eye; it came away wet.

Then he glimpsed his face in the bureau mirror, and his own mouth looked just like hers, but he couldn’t explain that to himself either. He couldn’t explain any of it.

— Previously published in Oregon East literary magazine (Issue 39, 2008); republished here by author’s permission

Thomas E. Kennedy
Issue 3, Spring 2015

The author of more than 30 books, including novels, story and essay collections, literary criticism, translation, anthologies, and most recently the four novels of the Copenhagen Quartet: In the Company of Angels (2010), Falling Sideways (2011), Kerrigan in Copenhagen, A Love Story (2013), and Beneath the Neon Egg (released the summer of 2014). All four are from Bloomsbury Publishing worldwide.

In 2013, Kennedy also published Getting Lucky: New & Selected Stories, 1982-2012 from New American Press. His books have been highly praised in the Washington Post, The New Yorker, The Guardian, and other prominent newspapers and magazines; and his latest novel was a recent Editors Choice in The New York Times Book Review.

His stories, essays, and translations from the Danish appear regularly in such venues as The New Yorker Blog, The Independent in London, Esquire Weekly, Boston Review, The Southern Review, Epoch, Ecotone, New Letters, Glimmer Train, Broad Street, Writer’s Chronicle, The Literary Review, American Poetry Review, Serving House Journal, Poet Lore, and many others. His work has won the O. Henry Prize, two Pushcart Prizes, and a National Magazine Award as well.

Kennedy has also won two Eric Hoffer Awards for novels, multiple grants from the Danish Arts Council, and other prizes and distinctions. He teaches fiction and creative nonfiction in the low-residency MFA program of Fairleigh Dickinson University and lives in Copenhagen. +

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Revising the Muse: An Interview with Thomas E. Kennedy
by Cynthia Pike Gaylord in Brevity (1 January 2011)

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