Carnival of Souls (2005)

Julia Story


It rained and rained while dogs stood on roofs and people were abandoned and they died. It happened on TV and while I stood on a porch in Indiana, the solid wall of rain making a gray room that I moved into.

Sometimes I drove to Blockbuster or the shoe store or walked from my office to the bar with two women from my group therapy. We smoked Kools in a parked car while I walked down into the basement of myself, found a rickety chair and sat down while black flowers bloomed in my head.

Once I met my ex-husband at the top of a parking garage so I could throw a trash bag of his stuff at him while the sky above us was manically purple and orange. I did yoga in a trailer and slept with a Hungarian graduate student. His pit bulls befriended my dog so we walked them in a cemetery, went on shy dates at a Tibetan restaurant. I tried to quit drinking. I smoked one cigarette a night on the porch.

I wrote in my notebook: Is a crush on Columbo a desire TO BE Columbo?? Distracted and bored I read Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Adam Bede in overhead unpleasant light, one leg on the floor and the rest of the body tense but prostrate on the bed: I could leave at any time, uncomfortable and ready.

Milk maids, squires, and dark woods conspired to be meaningless. There was no story about why any of it happened. No one meant anything. Not even those who loved us. They were gone but not even anywhere real. Gone in us, rushing over and over to the edge of something, refusing to jump or to be saved.


Julia Story is the author of Post Moxie (Sarabande Books), winner of the 2009 Katherine A. Morton Prize and the Ploughshares’ John C. Zacharis First Book Award; The Trapdoor (Dancing Girl Press); Julie the Astonishing (Sixth Finch Books); and Spinster for Hire (The Word Works). Her work has been awarded a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in many publications including Diode, Ploughshares, The Paris Review, Sixth Finch, and The New Yorker. She is from Indiana and now lives in Massachusetts.