Florida by Mary Lynn Reed


You’re on the night shift and every day it storms as you drive to work. At precisely 3pm the sky opens up and rain falls in sheets from the thundercloud that follows you across town. Your car is a late model hatchback and the A/C is busted. If you don’t want to drown you have to keep the windows rolled up and it’s so hot you can barely breathe. By the time you arrive at the low-rise industrial park sweat soaks through your polo shirt and leaves big wet spots under your arms.

You’re seventeen and you’ll be in college soon. That’s what you tell the new girl you’re training on the phones. You like training. It makes the shift go faster than regular work. And the new girl is cute. But you don’t tell her that.

The guy with the Bon Jovi hair pops bee pollen supplements like candy. The new girl says it’s to make his semen sweeter.

For blow jobs, she says. As if you didn’t understand the implication.

The new girl takes a call from Arkansas. Then one from New York. You talk about accents. How the speed of someone’s communication betrays their location.

Twenty seconds, you say. I can guess what state a caller is from in twenty seconds. No problem.

The new girl wears jumpsuits and contact lenses and she smiles a lot. Her teeth are a bit crooked but you can overlook that. She says her boyfriend grew up in Arizona. She says everything is dry in Arizona. Yards are full of rocks and cactus and scrub brush.

We have a lemon tree in our backyard, you say. Lemons need humidity. A strong sun is not enough.

The guy with the Bon Jovi hair takes his break at 7:30. The new girl comments on the tightness of his jeans.

Do you think it means anything? she asks.

What could it mean?

You don’t give a crap about the guy with the Bon Jovi hair. You don’t give a crap about any guy but you’ve never told anyone that. You’ll be in college soon. You’ll meet a lot of new people then.

The new girl watches Bon Jovi hair slide his timecard into the machine. He runs his hand through his golden locks as if he were on stage. New girl looks back at you and shakes her head. Never mind, she says.




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


(Next story: Dictionary by Hugh Behm-Steinberg)

(Previous story: Dreamer by Kirsten Kaschock)

Feel like submitting? Check out our submission guidelines


Image by ASSY