I’m doing a survey of all the ways to screw up a good thing. All the ways to make nothing out of something. All the paths to seek the unobtainable when it sure as hell feels like it ought to be obtainable. It’s an honest way to begin. Get it out on the table up front. So it won’t come as a surprise later when we’re both sitting at the other end of nowhere, trying to figure out how it all unraveled so goddamned fast. When just a few days before the sky had opened wide and blue—in the middle of the darkest night—and the unthinkable began to look like real possibility. When it felt, maybe just for five minutes—but they were a damn fine five minutes—like I might be able to deliver all the things you said you wanted and a good handful of the things you needed but never admitted to anyone—yet they were there, buried somewhere deep inside—and you would never tell me either—there wasn’t time, because I was doing this survey. And I promised it wouldn’t be a burden or take too much of your time. I’m very efficient and respectful and would never push you. Never overstep any bounds. You’ve been a great help and neither one of us should still be thinking about all that untapped potential, about how gentle it was that time, and how hot, or how good it felt to open the door and let someone in. Endings are important, too. Endings tells us who we are and that’s hard to capture in a survey. Hard to explain how nothing and never again and five fine minutes turned out to be quite something after all.



Mary Lynn Reed’s prose has appeared in Mississippi Review, Colorado Review, The MacGuffin, Smokelong Quarterly, FRiGG, Sakura Review, and Whistling Shade, among other places. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Maryland.