“So?” he says. “And was missing an arm,” she says. “You’re being rude.” “And Joan couldn’t speak,” she says.
time at that benefit.” “Oh, no,” he says. “I met her before. We had a blind date a few weeks before the accident. I went to her concert and then out for a drink.” “What made it a blind date?” “She didn’t know I was there, there were other people.” “So it was more like an audition for a date?” “No, it was a date, she and I talked about it on the phone after.” “Sounds one-sided.” “She was very private. It was actually the only time we ever spoke—the accident happened soon after.” “Have you seen Joan since the accident or perhaps traded texts?” “No,” he says. “I met you and that was all she wrote.” Another taxi turns the corner a little too close, splashing his
“If you recall, we met at an event, a fundraiser for Joan, who had been hit by a bus. She was wearing a sign around her neck, ‘I’m Joan . . .’” “It wasn’t a sign, it was a shirt. She was wearing a T-shirt that I made for her. It said ‘I’m Joan and I was hit by a bus.’ And she had little cards that she gave out with her good hand—that said ‘Thank you.’” “Everything I say, you twist it and make me feel like an ass,” he says. “I can’t make you feel like an ass—that’s your own thing, and by the way Joan was a brilliant violinist.” “You just said was, not is. Did something happen to Joan?”
“Something more than getting hit by a bus and losing an arm and a leg and the power of speech?” He looks at her, waiting for more. “Is Joan all right?” “How can you ask that question?” “What do you mean? I’m concerned.” “You’re nearly hysterical. A minute ago you said it was Joan or me, and now you’re so worried about Joan. It sounds as though you have regrets.” “It wasn’t an either-or. Joan or you. ‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, / And sorry I could not travel both.’” “That’s disgusting,” she says. “What?” “A yellow wood, it’s racist.” “I don’t get it.” “Joan is Chinese, a yellow wood is a reference to her being Chinese.” “It’s not my line,” he says. “It’s Robert Frost.”
ankles. “Get out of the street,” she says. “You would think what hap- pened to Joan was sobering, would keep you out of traffic.” “What happened when the bus hit her?” he asks. “She was looking the other way, she didn’t see it coming.” “Maybe it’s better that way —blindsided.” “I don’t think it’s ever good,” she says. At the next corner, he hesitates. The phrase “images from possible futures flicker past” runs through his mind. “What are you doing?” she asks, sensing his distraction. “Lamenting what might have been,” he says. “‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— / I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.’” “I wish I understood you,” she says. “I used to think I did, and now I have no idea.” “It doesn’t matter,” he says. It is starting to rain. At the next corner he stops to open his umbrella. They have clearly come to an end. He turns to her. “Goodbye,” he says. “Goodbye to the ‘Road Not Taken.’” *
Symphony Space is a New York City multi-disciplinary performing arts center where bold programming is presented in a uniquely warm and welcoming environment. Symphony Space is known for its signature series Selected Shorts, where our greatest actors transport us through the magic of short fiction. The series is produced live on stage at Symphony Space and is a weekly public radio show and podcast hosted by novelist Meg Wolitzer. — — Upcoming Selected Shorts at Symphony Space include a night hosted by Meg Wolitzer and a collaboration with McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern , hosted by John Hodgman . Additional programs include literary events with Nicole Chung, Lorrie Moore, Samantha Irby, Laura Dern, Andrew Rannells, and more. For more information can be found on their website at symphonyspace.org
“You have a way of worming out of everything,” she says. “And by the way, Joan is fine. She hooked up with her physical therapist and they’re running marathons, she got a blade foot and a robotic arm, she’s practi- cally bionic. And she has her own cooking show: Everybody Loves Joan. ” “How can she have a cooking show without speaking?” “Subtitles.” “Well, Joan is very nice, not edgy, not complex, she was al- ways measured and kind,” he says. “How well did you know her?” “Well enough to describe her like a bottle of wine.” “I had the impression that you were meeting her for the first
A.M. Homes is the author of the novels Jack, In a County of Mothers , The End of Alice , Music for Torching , This Book Will Save Your Life , and May We Be Forgiven , winner of the Orange/Women’s Prize for Fiction. Homes is also the author of the memoir The Mistress’s Daughter and the short-story collections The Safety of Objects , Things You Should Know , and Days of Awe . Her latest novel, The Unfolding , was published in September 2022.
“GOODBYE TO THE ROAD NOT TAKEN” BY A.M. HOMES WAS WRITTEN FOR SYMPHONY SPACE’S SELECTED SHORTS 35 SHORTS COMMISSIONING PROJECT, AND ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN SMALL ODYSSEYS: SELECTED SHORTS PRESENTS 35 NEW STORIES (ALGONQUIN, MARCH 2022). COPYRIGHT 2022 BY A.M. HOMES. REPRINTED BY PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR AND THE WYLIE AGENCY.
Made with FlippingBook - Online catalogs