Sunday Stories: “People Shouldn’t Have to be the Ones to Tell You”

People Shouldn’t Have to be the Ones to Tell You
by Zoe Goldstein

I moved in with my neighbor Anastasia and her girlfriend Franklin after my little marriage drove itself clear off the interstate.

I was 27 and in the mood for whatever. I didn’t know to what extent I would keep “going” with my life.


cold but not dark just grey
Spanish lessons
dinner sitting down

This was my attitude when the girlfriend walked in and told me she needed me to help her mix meth.

Oh, I said. Well, no, I would rather not.

What are you even doing? She asked. You need to contribute to the household.

I told her I had to do my sadness, the first item of the day.

She told me come on, I wouldn’t have to do much. She’d call the shots.

If only I was taller. (I couldn’t tell who said that.)

We were going to dilute the meth with stuff to make it more meth, she explained.

My job was to get the gunk off the tub.

My neighbor and her girlfriend were both paralegals. My guess is this loans one business sense.

The words lost their places again. Every so often I am woken up by a vertigo of language. I lose sense of how words are different from each other. Then I cast a list like a net. The meaning of a word is a net.


that which must be contained
soft belly
ore—gold thump
This one goes out to the one I love
This one goes out to the one I–

I guess I was doing the list too loud. Franklin put her cigarette out on my shirt.

I can’t tell you when my wife stopped being my wife. It was something like what happens with the words. She ran away without leaving the house.

One day I checked myself into the ER. Still thought of us as one body or something. Little spindly legs on the stretcher. They said there was nothing wrong. I told them I drank poison. POISON, I kept saying until they hooked me up to the tube and got some of my ratty blood out.

I admit I have trouble understanding how things end.

Franklin and I are taking shots, she says, so that she will like me more.

I have to get to work, she demands of me, her huge body crowding me against the tub.

This was totally to get back at me for going in their underwear drawer, which I did every day as other people do jobs.

I started imagining ways to get out of this. I could urinate, or jerk off, start eating the gunk.

I shouldn’t have thought about my wife fucking someone else. Which made the words slip. Or which the words slipping made me do.


a sky laugh
in a year what does he think of it?

I looked up and saw the thought of her fucking someone hanging over the shower curtain.

Thoughts have been polished passed down dipped in gravy for millennia. They are not mine or yours. They may be scrubbed, shaved, dressed in talcum sheen.

Franklin told me to shut up. Everyone has depression.

I got the tears out of the way so I could keep watching the thought. But it skipped along the shower shelf too fast and the sun was new.


Zoe Goldstein lives in Brooklyn, NY. Previously, she lived in San Francisco, Los Angeles, London and Mexico City. She teaches English.

Follow Vol. 1 Brooklyn on TwitterFacebook, and sign up for our mailing list.