What I’m reading: “Malaria” by Michael Byers

“When I was in college in Eugene I had a girlfriend named Nora Vardon. We had fallen together sort of accidentally, I talked to her first at a vending machine where we ere both buying coffee, and things progressed in the usual slow ways, we went out one cold night to look at the blurry stars, and that led to some kissing, and from there we started the customary excavation of our families, revealing, not quite competitively, how crazy they both were, she with a raft of depressives and schizophrenics and me with a bunch of drunks, mainly the men on my father’s side. She had an open, genial, feline face, with big cheeks and dark eyes, and a big, soft body that was round in parts and that was covered for three months out of the year, with the big textured bruises left by lacrosse balls. She was very pretty, really, and I counted myself lucky to be around her. I was skinny and out of necessity got cheap haircuts, so I wasn’t much to look at, and I tended to be secretive, I suppose you could put it that way, although I had nothing to be secretive about, being only twenty and unadventurous.”

Reprinted in Best American Short Stories 2013 


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