FICTION – Three Pieces by Alexandra Chasin


The “W” in Wreck



















What Does It Mean For My Tree To Be Owned?



















Your Options


Although I was up to my elbows preparing dinner for myself and my children when the phone rang, I picked it up.  A guy was calling to pre-warn me.

I worry.  I worry about getting cancer, about whether my children will find lovers worthy of them, about the number of fish remaining in the sea, or rather, dwindling.  I worry about the economy.  I never stopped worrying about the economy, not even in the 90s.  I worry about getting a parking space after street cleaning is over and it’s time to undoublepark my car according to local custom.  It’s like a jungle out there.  I worry about the Supreme Court, and the federal judges, empty benches and bad decisions.  I worry about my boss’s sanity.  I worry about the game tonight.  I worry about remembering everyone’s schedules and being there to pick them up at the right times whenever they’re done with whatever they’re doing, or making sure someone else is.  I worry about the loss of privacy and the appeal of publicity.  I don’t worry about certain signs of social value, like Justin Bieber.

I consider myself pre-warned.

A man’s voice said, I’m calling to pre-warn you and then pass you over to my supervisor, who will tell you your options.

I said, Can you just pass me over to your supervisor right now, please?  I crooked my neck to cradle the phone, shushing a child with one hand and stirring the pot with the other, prepared to receive my options, which sometimes seem to be falling off faster than the fish.

He said, Another company will try to tell you something about your account with Soap Opera Digest, and I’m calling to warn you that what they will say to you is not true.

I said, I don’t have an account, I have a subscription and it’s not set to expire any time soon.  Still working on the difference between warning and pre-warning, I almost tripped over the child lying on the floor in front of the sink as I went to pour the pasta and the boiling water into a colander waiting there.  I saved the pasta and kicked the child, gently.

You have an account.  Did he know something I did not about my own affairs?  Or was this like when the bogus energy company calls to tell me I could get a better rate than I’m getting from the utilities megaconglomerate that holds 19,000,000 accounts in the city in which I live if I would just give the caller some information about my last bill.  That caller doesn’t fool me.  But this one was a little different.

Again I asked if I could speak to his supervisor.  Maybe hearing my options would clarify things and if not, I would register a complaint.  I have plenty of complaints at the ready; they war with the worries, each shoving the other to be first out of the gate, should anyone ever ask.  The line went silent, but I was not on hold, and the man was not passing me over to his supervisor.  He had hung up on me.

If another guy calls to pre-warn me, here’s what I’ll say:  If you’re anybody other than God, get the hell off my phone line.  I’ve got to make dinner and I already know I’m going to die.  Unless, maybe, there’s another option?


Alexandra Chasin is the author of BriefKissed By, and Selling Out: The Gay and Lesbian Movement Goes to Market.  Associate Professor of Literary Studies at Lang College, The New School, Chasin was the recipient of a 2012 Fellowship in Fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and a 2013-14 fellowship at the Leon Levy Center for Biography at the CUNY Graduate Center.  Her book about Harry J. Anslinger and his war on drugs is coming out in 2016 with the University of Chicago Press.  Chasin is the Artistic Director of Writing On It All –






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