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author bio | spanish translation

Separate States
by Steve Lattimore
 

 DAD USED TO DRIVE UP and spend his nights at Shadow's apartment, but he had to stop because I was giving his stuff away if he stayed gone a full night, I'd drive around the next day with items he particularly cherished - a handful of Snap-On wrenches, the ugly black Stetson he wore to bars - and give them to someone who looked like he might want them. No one ever turned me down. After a month or so of that, Dad sold my car. I came appropriately unglued, and he stayed home every night for a week. Then he spent a night at Shadow's. Fine. When he came home the next day nothing was gone, I didn't say a word. Then he spent two nights away. I put a sign on the bulletin board at the True Value:
           "Free - Brand New Stay-Rite pool pump and man's Citizen watch at..." The pool was clouding up nicely by the time Dad got home. He grounded me, but my generous nature grounded him right back.
     So he took to the phone. You could bet that if he wasn't at work, he was lying in bed, fiber optically connected to his hideous scag mistress. Not being a veteran of the phone, though, he wasn't prepared for the bill that came - $1,200 for a single month. Shadow lives up in Fresno, not far; but still a long-distance call. "A phone ain't worth $1,200," Dad said, and let the bill go unpaid. He's no cheapskate by any means, in fact if anything he's the opposite a sucker for a brand name, whatever the cost. But he wants a show for his dollar - maximum horsepower, a glossy finish, the most gadgetry and lines of resolution per inch. He likes the look on people's faces as they reconsider him in the flattering light of his purchases.
     I love Dad and try to be patient with him, but when I picked up the phone and heard no tone, I went homicidal. "Does she have a 900 number?" I screamed. "Can't you find a woman in this whole area code?"
     "What was I supposed to do?" he whined.
     "Make her pay it."
     "But she ain't got a pot to piss in," he said, "and I'm union. Then he blindly hit the rawest possible nerve. "No one ever calls you anyway."
     I lined up his shot glasses from different states and crushed them one by one with the blender base as he watched. "If you ever speak to me again," I told him, "I'll sue you."
     "Gonna be pretty quiet around here, I guess."
     Rather than reconnect phone service, Dad decided to bring Shadow down to Hanford to live with us. I felt bad about giving his things away, breaking his jiggers - he does work hard - so I tried to be positive. "The phone savings can go toward my next car," I said.
     Then I met Shadow. She was pale and sickly, gaunt and skinny as a switch. I didn't know what the word "ragamuffin" meant exactly but I'd heard it, and when I saw Shadow I understood. Holding on to the back pockets of her jeans were two tangly looking seaweed creatures, girls, silent and unsmiling. Nobody had said anything about kids.
     "This is a real nice place," Shadow said to me. "You're a real lucky girl."
     Pointing to Shadow's girls, I told Dad flatly, " They are not to use my bathroom."
     "They won't," he said. "Now hush up."
     Shadow inspected her new quarters, clearly pleased. Given Dad's personality, she probably expected something made of tin that ran just fine on leaded gas. "Welcome home," Dad said. He pulled Shadow full against him, beaming. She gave him a little squeeze around the pot and he about gacked his pants with pride. The thing I've never been able to abide in Dad is how grateful he is for so little affection. It's endearing for about a nanosecond, then you want to vomit.
     "Don't expect me to entertain these waifs while you two are doing it," I said.
     "What's with the mouth?" Shadow asked, whether of me or Dad I wasn't sure, but oooh, I had that bitch in my cross hairs. Then the bruises on her arms caught my eye, the needle marks, and for the first time in my life I was struck dumb. My brain was already packing a suitcase, picking out this top and those pants.
     "Shadow," I said. "How are your T cells these days?"
     Dad had had enough. "Why don't you haul your damn smart mouth to your room until you can act like a person."
     "What's that supposed to mean?" Shadow asked. "My cells?"
     Dad wilted visibly, meek and pathetic, terrified that I was going to wreck his grotesque abomination of a romance. Which I definitely was. "Erin," he begged. "C'mon."
     "I just meant your health," I said then to Shadow. "You look tired."
     Apropos of nothing in the known universe, Shadow said, "I fell down stairs last month and had some internal bleeding. I've got a tilted uterus."
     I would have thrown up right there if I was my normal self. But as Shadow said "tilted uterus," something inside me shifted as well. I can't trace it for you and say, That made me think of this, which reminded me of that, which clued me in on this other. It doesn't work that way. Shadow just said those two words and I looked at Dad and saw a man who raised me from a baby and loved me and put up with all my shit, but who had no genetic claim on me, no blood connection at all. I realized then that my real father lived somewhere else. I saw the shape of his state in my mind, its lean finger pointing skyward, but I couldn't name it. Then, like a time snap, I heard Mom's voice: "Thank God I screwed around." It was a sideways crack she'd made when I was little, but the words didn't find me until the very day I'm describing. If you think it doesn't work that way, you're wrong.
     Dad suddenly looked scared. "What's the matter?" he asked. "What's wrong with you?" My chest was tight, my breath coming shallow. He left Shadow's side and put his arm around me. I suppose I was crying by then. "You had a naked Norman," he said.
     I nodded. "I saw my father's state," I said. "It's not our state. He's not you."
     Dad pulled back from me a little and looked into my eyes, something he never did. He hugged me tight. "I love you, girlie," he said. He looked scared.
     "Is something going on?" Shadow asked. "Should I leave?"
     This is embarrassing to admit, but just then I left my father's - this man's - arms, and steered Shadow by the shoulders into them. "Stay," I said. Like she was a dog.
      
When I was in kindergarten I up and left the playground one day without a word and walked home alone. The school called Dad at work and he rushed home in a panic to find me on the living room floor, asleep. "I slapped your face," he later told me, "but you were zonked." In my sleep, or maybe at school, I saw my Uncle Norman lying naked on his bathroom floor, unmoving. I woke up screaming, then I sobbed and sobbed, telling Daddy what I'd seen. He took me to my uncle's to show me that it was just my imagination - my overmation, he called it - that Norman was okay. He wasn't, though; he was dead. Naked on the bathroom floor. He'd had a fit and swallowed his tongue. More than once I'd seen him nearly die this way, seen Dad's fingers in his mouth, Uncle Norman's teeth clamped hard onto them, drawing blood.
     After that day, Daddy was almost openly afraid of me. And I was afraid of myself.
     I left Dad and Shadow like that, went to my room, and fell fast to sleep. It was night when I woke, the darkness chilling me inside and out. I didn't know quite where I was. A tingle, a fright ran through me. Then I lifted the handset of the phone and heard silence. I was home.
     I slipped on some jeans and a sweater and walked down to the Beacon station to call my mother. She and Dad had always been separated, always.
     "You whore!" I said when she answered. "You cheated on him. How could you?"
     Mom yawned. "If you were married to Dodd, you'd know how easy it was."
     My mother had a talent for the truth. She used it to quiet me, to cheat me out of my anger. It was a trick I'm sure Dad wished he knew.
     Mom told me my real father's name. She told me what he looked like, what she sees of him in me. "Fire and wind and rain all at once," she said. "A walking natural disaster, just like you." Then she was quiet a minute. "But with him," she said, "it was just armor for a broken heart. I worry that your armor is really you."
     She didn't apologize for that, she just went on, which is what Mom always did. "Your father didn't lay a finger on me," she told me. "All he cared about was our friendship, the way we were together, talking and laughing and telling the truth because I was married so friends was all we could be." She gave him plenty of chances, she said, but where other men would see opportunity, my father saw only her, and that she was hurting. " Things weren't very pretty with Dodd," she said. I asked how she got knocked up with me if this guy wouldn't touch her. "Because I'm a woman," she said. "That's how. Any woman can screw any man if she really wants to. I loved that your father didn't take advantage, but God, it also turned me on."
     "You're disgusting," I said. "If you ever talk to me again..." Nothing more came out.
     "It was the only time I've ever been in love," Mom said. "I still love him."
     "Still?"
     "Still."
     "I know where he lives," I said. "I saw it in my head."
     "He lives somewhere in Idaho, I think."
     "Idaho."
     "He'd love to meet you, Erin. It's the way he is." She didn't know what to say after that, and neither did I. So we said goodbye.
      
School was like a nightmare the next day. I woke up late and missed my first two classes, and in fourth period home ec, Brenda Arusparger held up a picture drawn in her notebook of a huge dick with a face impaled on it, my name beneath the face. I didn't kick her ass at lunch. I was too tired, too something. A couple of weeks earlier she'd flashed me a dirty look from the pizza line, so I hit her in the face with a plate of stir fry. She was a nobody, a hopeless, bug-eyed loner who had no right to look at me like that. After our fight, she made friends with Avis and Mavis Davis, two white-trash sisters the size of Porta Potties who pretended to be Mexican, for what reason even God, I'm sure, is wondering. The Davises were mean. No one in the history of Kings County has ever stood up to them, not even guys. Now Brenda dressed like them, long plaid shirts buttoned at the neck and baggy chinos. She smoked and called people ese and pinche and spray-glued her bangs straight up. She looked like a peacock's ass.
     In fifth period, Understanding Our World, Mr. Unzueta talked about Pangaea, this humongous landmass that long ago contained all seven of today's continents. He put diagrams on the overhead that showed how the shapes of the continents all fit together, like pieces of a puzzle. And it was true, they did - one big chunk of land surrounded by all this water. Then, over a long time, this big supercontinent broke into two pieces, Laurasia and Gondwanaland. Unzueta started to say something about continental drift but there was a fight outside and he went out to break it up. The land kept going on like that, I guess, pieces breaking off and drifting apart. When Unzueta came back, we watched a movie about geodesic domes and I started crying. I got up and left for the nurse's office, told her I had a migraine and only a dark room would help. She called Dad to come get me.
     But Shadow came instead of Dad. She was driving his Bronco, which even I wasn't allowed to drive.
     "Does Dad know you're a junkie?" I asked her.
     "I don't do junk," Shadow said.
     "Don't even try the diabetic thing."
     "I used to shoot a little," she said, "but I don't anymore."
     "Oh my God! What a maggot! Where did my father meet you?"
     "Look," Shadow said. She pulled the truck over. "Your dad and I like each other and we want to hang out. Are me and you gonna have to throw blows before we can get some peace?"
     I slumped down in my seat. "Not if you keep out of my way," I said.
     Shadow put the truck in gear. "Why are you such a bitch, anyway?"
     "I have issues."
     "Yeah?" Shadow looked puzzled. "Well... I have two left feet." A strange silence followed, then Shadow cracked up laughing, and then I did.
     "Willis Dodd isn't my dad," I said.
     "So I hear. That was quite a moment you two had."
     "It was something you said that made me see it. About your uterus being tilted. Which, by the way, grossed me completely out."
     Laugh lines forked at the corners of her eyes. "Then you'll like this," she said. "I have to make adjustments when I have sex, because of the tilt. The normal angles don't work."
     "I'm just going to turn my imagination right off."
     "You're a virgin, huh?"
     "That's none of your business."
     "I guess not," Shadow said. "But you shouldn't take it out on everyone else."
     "Just drop me off right here," I said. But Shadow drove on. Dad was sitting at the table drinking whiskey when we got home. He looked morose and unfed. When he saw me he said, "Migraine, huh. Since when?"
     "Why are you drinking in the middle of the day?" I asked.
     "I guess it's still my house," he said. "I guess I can drink in it if I want to." He took his jackknife out of his pocket, opened the blade and set it on the table in front of him. He unbuttoned his sleeve and rolled it to the elbow. "Turn out the light," he said. "Leave me alone."
     "You're making an ass of yourself," I said. Shadow looked at me hard.
     "You're gonna try and find him, ain't you?" Dad asked. "Your biological fuckface."
     I said nothing. What would be the point?
     "Go on then," Dad said. He put the knife to his wrist. "Leave me alone. Both of you." I left Shadow to deal with him. What a piece of theater.
      
 I don't have a lot of friends. I have no friends. The day I picked up the phone and found it dead I was about to call that public service number that rings you right back. People hate me. They started hating me early and I grew up as the girl people hated. So I did the only thing I could: I hated them back. Maybe this is sick, but when I figured out about my real dad, when I saw Idaho silhouetted in my head, the first thing I thought was: Would people hate me there too? There are so many people in California, it's such a big state to be hated in.
     I took out the encyclopedia and lay with it on my bed. Idaho is between Ictinus and Idalium. Only a million people live there. It's almost all mountains. It has the deepest gorge in the country, nearly 8,ooo feet beneath the peaks. The chief industry used to be mining, but now it's agriculture. It's a Republican state but they elect Democrats for governor. It has four electoral votes. It's just this side of the Continental Divide.
      
When I got home from school the next day, Dad, Shadow and the fright wig twins were in the family room watching Star Wars on the biggest television screen I'd ever seen. X-wing fighters screeched into the picture from every direction. Wall-mounted speakers hissed with laser fire. Dad grinned like a schoolboy. "Greetings, Princess Erin."
     "Greetings, Darth. What's all this shit?"
     "It's new," Shadow said.
     "Duh."
     "Listen to that sound," Dad said. "And look at that." He pointed to the new VCR. "We taped All My Children for you."
     "We figured you wouldn't want to watch it with us," Shadow said, "so we put the old TV and VCR in your room.
     "You figured right," I said. But then I dropped onto the couch at Shadow's feet and watched the big screen with everyone else. The picture was crisp, the sound cutting, like razors through brain. It was amazing.
     Dad shut everything off with the remote control and Shadow said, "Girls, go outside. Grownups have to talk." The girls got up without a word and left. Scary.
     Dad said, "About this other deal, um..."
     "Dodd's going to help you find your biological father," Shadow said.
     "I hope you'll still think of me as your father too," Dad said.
     "There's this private investigator," Shadow said. "He's real good. Can I tell her the story?"
     Dad grimaced. "I don't want to hear that again."
     "Nothing happened," Shadow said. "We didn't do anything, just hung out a couple of times." Dad mumbled something and Shadow went ahead. She said she'd worked for an insurance company, in claims. She figured out how to file phony claims and have the checks sent to her friends. She got away with it only twice before she got caught. The company hired a private eye who got her on videotape receiving the envelopes, cashing the checks, the whole enchilada. "He had videotape of me inside my own apartment, she said. "I was blown away." Shadow was fired but for some reason not prosecuted. Then, a few days later, the PI showed up at her door and asked her out. "Is that balls or what?" she said. Dad bristled at this, so she skipped forward. "I'm sure he could find your father for you," she said. "That's an easy job for them guys."
     I said I'd think about it, which Dad didn't like. "Offer ain't open till doomsday." He remote-controlled Star Wars back into reeling, screeching Technicolor, and at hearing the movie, Shadow's girls came back in. I left them to themselves. Luke Skywalker is such a fag.
     Over the next couple of weeks, Dad went crazy buying stuff for the house: a Stairmaster, a mountain climber, a Soloflex, and a treadmill. The screened-in patio became a home gym. Dad patted the minuscule ledge of Shadow's ass. "If there's a muscle in there," he said, "we'll find it." She rubbed the bowl of his paunch. "No problem finding this." It was sort of cute. Dad looked happy. I pretended to be disgusted by it all, but at night when everyone was asleep I snuck out and used the Stairmaster, dreaming, as I climbed and climbed, of showing up in Idaho a new person, skinny and without armor.
     After working out just two times, Dad was stiff as a cyborg. His eyes filled with tears when he lowered himself onto the couch. We all laughed watching him, and he laughed too. "It hurts," he said. So he bought a spa. The salesman guaranteed that the whirlpool setting would turn Dad's muscles to jelly. About every ten minutes Dad assured us that it did. "Feels good," he said.
     After my late-night workouts, I'd fold the spa cover back and slip in. Ten minutes of that heavenly churning water and I slept like an Egyptian.
     One night while lying back in the spa, the water pounding beneath me, I opened my eyes to find Dad standing there, smiling proudly. He had a towel in his hand. "I didn't know you was out here," he said.
     "I was just trying it out," I said. "I'm done." I started to climb out but Dad stopped me.
     "No," he said. "Stay. I don't have to use it."
     "It's okay," I said.
     "Really," he said. "Stay there. Sit." He stood with hands on hips, fairly beaming. "Feels good, don't it?"
     "Yeah," I said. "It's nice."
     "See. I'm not such an idiot."
     "I didn't say you were an idiot."
     "Well." He shifted from foot to foot. "It seats eight people. I guess we could both use it."
     "I guess."
     Dad hung his towel on a hook and started to get in. "Actually," I said, "I'm getting kind of hot. I think I'll get something to drink. You want anything?" He shook his head. "I'll bring it to you," I said.
     "Don't bother."
     I got out and wrapped myself quickly in a towel. "Okay," I said. "Well, good night." I went inside and watched from the glass door as Dad covered the spa and took a seat on the redwood steps beside it. For a long time he sat with his hands on his knobby knees, looking toward the house.
      
After that I kept my distance. I was waiting - I knew that - but for what I wasn't sure. I listened to the goings-on outside my bedroom door, the movies they all watched on the big screen and the songs Dad and Shadow drank and even danced to. Dad extended his credit for an old-fashioned Wurlitzer jukebox with bubbles and electric lights and stocked it with sad, chin-in-your-beer country songs for him and lava lamp acid-flashback stuff for Shadow, Janis Joplin and other dead junkies. For the first time ever, the house had a pulse.
     The next time I used the spa, Shadow slipped out of the house stark naked and joined me. "That's not how you do it," she said, snapping the strap of my swimsuit top. She climbed into the tub and sprawled out like a spider, one leg bobbing gently in my lap. "Let it hit you everywhere," she said. She moaned then like some kind of barn animal and I scooted away from her. She lay back, eyes closed, taking in water and spitting it out. "No one likes you," she said. "You don't go out, there are never any guys around. What's wrong with you?" I turned the air bubbles on, the blower whirring loudly now. Shadow hollered above the noise. "You're not ugly."
     "That makes one of us," I said, mostly to myself.
     She reached past me and shut the whole thing off. The swirling water slowed. "Face it," she said, "you're socially retarded."
     "What should I do?" I asked.
     "My opinion? I'd pick out some guy at school, someone you like a little but not a lot, and make it your job to fuck his brains out. You're the terminator: Don't stop until he's totally in love with you. And trust me at that age he will be. Then ditch him. Word will get out, and you'll have more friends and dates than you'll know what to do with."
     "Are you, like, some fuck monster or something?"
     "No," Shadow said. "But yours is an extreme case. I'd lay someone. Only don't fall in love. Then your ass is his, he owns you. A virgin in love? I wouldn't wish that on anyone."
     "There's no one here I could fall in love with anyway," I said. "People are scummy here."
     Shadow got out of the tub and stood rubbing herself with the towel until she shone pink in the moonlight. "No they're not."
      
Ricky Machado wasn't a complete jerk. He was in my home ec class. He whisked egg whites into soft peaks with some style - flexing his jaw because he knew it looked cool. Until he got hit by a car while he was riding his skateboard, he was medium popular. Then he got a thigh-high cast on his leg and suddenly everyone liked him. The cast was marked with cartoons and colorful signatures like you'd expect. By Shadow's reasoning, he'd be a good choice; I couldn't really fall for someone who greeted people with the Vulcan peace sign.
     We were supposed to be making V-neck shirts in class, but I think Ricky was making a kite. I stopped at his table and he looked up at me with pins in his mouth, eyes wide like he'd been busted. His material was skulls and crossbones on a black field. I asked if I could sign his cast.
     He looked puzzled. "What are you going to write?"
     "I don't know. My phone number maybe." I remembered then that I no longer had a phone, but I kept my wits. "I'll think of something."
     "Yeah," he smiled. "Okay." From his backpack he took a pouch of felt-tip pens. "Pick a color;" he said. I took red. Ricky scooted his leg out from under the table and I kneeled down. The only white space left was on the inside of his thigh, so I had to scooch down some. As I steadied the cast with my free hand, Brenda Arnsparger shouted, "Look out, it's a blowjob!" Ricky grabbed the back of my head and pulled me toward him. I broke loose and fell backward into the aisle. The bell rang for lunch then, and people poured by me.
      
Dad and Shadow drove up to Fresno the following day to see Shadow's private eye. The house was dark when they got back, the only light coming from the big screen. The girls were sprawled on the floor as usual, and I was lying like a corpse on the new couch. Shadow ignored me and dropped to the floor with her girls, who intertwined their arms and legs with Shadow's until they looked like a giant bird's nest. It was nice how they all fit to each other, how the girls went right to Shadow without a thought, how she accepted them and let them be as they would, all of a body. For his part, Dad went to his room without a word. Through the noise of the TV, I heard his door click shut at the far end of the dark hall.
      
The next few days creaked by. I didn't take a step toward school, and Dad said not a word. He started working double shifts, whether to keep away from me or to pay for his spending spree I didn't know. Shadow and the girls had the run of the house, blasting the TV and the jukebox, using the spa like a splash pool. I stayed in my room.
     Idaho was granted statehood in 1890, the forty-third state. Its nickname was the Gem State, its bird the mountain bluebird, its flower the syringa, whatever that is. Its tree, I learned, was the Western white pine. The state song: "Here We Have Idaho."
     The Nez Perce was the big Indian tribe in Idaho. They were renowned for large herds of appaloosa horses. Their leader was Chief Joseph. A cunning fighter, he defeated huge federal troops with a small band of warriors. The government kept finding stuff they wanted on Nez Perce land, though, and moved the tribe farther and farther into the desert southern regions of the state. A few young warriors rebelled by killing some settlers, and the army went after the whole tribe. Chief Joseph took all his people and fled toward Canada to escape the soldiers. They eluded the troops for nearly fifteen hundred miles, but finally they were caught, just thirty miles from the border and freedom. "I will fight no more forever;" Chief Joseph said. The Nez Perce were banished to a barren, hopeless reservation, but he kept his promise.
      
When the letter from Shadow's PI came, Dad turned a shade of crimson as he read it. "What does it say?" I asked. Dad said nothing, so I grabbed it away from him.

Mr. Dodd,
     Your check bounced. I hate working for the general public. Anyway, I have all the stuff you want but you're going to have to bring a cashier's check to my office to get it. It was an easy job and, as you can see by the enclosed invoice, didn't cost much. Which makes all this a pain in the ass. Why don't you get a phone?

     "Do you have the money?" I asked.
     Dad shook his head. "I get paid next week," he said.
     "Idaho has a population of one million," I said. "It's called the Gem State. The state bird is the turkey buzzard."
     "I could take a cash advance on my credit card," Dad said.
     "They test nuclear weapons on the Indians there. And diseases too. Bubonic plague, black death. And they hunt them for sport. But the Indians keep smiling. They're a proud people."
     "I'm sorry I've been such a terrible father."
     "You haven't been terrible," I said. "I just hate my life."
     "Okay," Dad said, his eyes glassy now with tears. "I'll go."
     I went to my room. A few minutes later, Shadow knocked, then came in. "You should go with him," she said. "You really should."
     "Will you come too?" I asked her.

She climbed onto the bed and gathered my hair at the back, took a scrunchie from her pocket and doubled it over and over until I had the taut ponytail of a little girl. "You should probably go just the two of you," she said. "Don't you think?"
     "Yeah." Then I said, "He really is a good man."
     "He's a prince," Shadow said. She laughed dryly, her smile hanging a beat too long in her cheeks.
     "Do you love him?" I asked.
     "Sister," she said, "he knows all my angles."
      
It turned out that Dad didn't know Shadow's angles at all, though. When we got home from Fresno, me gripping the bright white envelope of my real father's life, the house had been cleaned out and Shadow and the girls were gone. Dad and I walked silently from room to room, pausing at the dents like fresh scars in the carpet. Everything was gone. Everything. All the rooms were empty except for clothes strewn here and there. How big our little house looked.
     I sat on the family room floor where the big screen had been and cried. Dad walked the rooms again, looking, I knew, for a note. When he didn't find it, he sat back against the wall beside me. "I guess that's that," he said.
     "We should call the police."
     He nodded, cupped his hands to his mouth. "Police!" he called. "Hey you dumb sonsabitches!" He sat quiet for a while, his fingers absently tracing furniture outlines in the carpet. I'm just not meant to hold on to things," he said.
     "I'm going to miss her," I said.
     Dad laughed. "One crazy bitch after the other. I guess that's my lot in life."
     "Does that include me?" I asked.
    Dad pressed the keys to the Bronco into my hand and squeezed it shut. His last possession. "It does today," he said. "About tomorrow I couldn't even guess."
     I drove to the Beacon station and dropped a handful of change into the phone, punched the numbers to my father's house in Sand Point, Idaho, the area code exotic to the touch. Immediately it was answered.
     Have you ever heard yourself on tape, the voice that is but isn't you? This was the voice I heard. It was almost me, but not quite. The girl laughed into the phone. "Hello?" Band music shimmied in the background, party chatter reaching a happy din.
     "Hello," I said. "I'm calling for -
     "Hello?"
     "Hello. I'm calling -
     "Daddy," the girl shouted above the noise. "The phone's doing it again." Something made of glass broke in the distance. A peal of laughter echoed. "Are you there?" the girl asked. "If you are, I can't hear you."
     "I think I might be your sister," I said.
     "Whoever this is, I guess you'll have to come over now. Don't worry, we'll be going late."
     "Maybe someday we'll meet."
     "Don't bring anything, we have plenty."
     "I have to go now," I said. "Goodbye."
     "Sorry, I can't hear you. If this is Tim, where are you?" She hung up.
     I dropped my last quarter into the phone and tapped out my number. It too was strange, nearly forgotten. Then the recording came on. You've reached a number that has been disconnected. For better or worse, I knew this time I was calling home.
  

1997 Steve Lattimore
                                                                                spanish translation  
   

"Separate States" appears in Circumnavigation, published by Houghton Mifflin, 1997On-line book ordering Amazon

This electronic version of "Separate States" and the Spanish translation is published by The Barcelona Review by arrangement with Houghton Mifflin Company. All Rights Reserved. This story may not be archived or distributed further without the author's express permission. Please see our conditions of use.                             

Steve Lattimore

Steve Lattimore is a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. His fiction has appeared in Mississippi Review, American Short Fiction and American Fiction. He is currently a visiting professor at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.

photo: Linda A. Cicero


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