Summer 2006




Visual Arts
Challenge Prompt
Author Bios

fourteen reasons why

Samantha Thompson

There are fourteen precise reasons why Mary Ellen did not do what she was supposed to do today. They all speak for themselves.

She remembered that in grade school; you got in a line, you followed the leader, you did what you were told, you wanted the center of attention. This day, fifteen years later she had that chance. And she didn’t care.

Her mother would always tell her never to buy her friends’ babies white onesies. “White is so impractical,” her mother would say. Without doubt, Mary couldn’t agree more.

On a road trip to Oklahoma last month, she realized he snored. Not because she could hear and that he was bothersome. But the people in the next room complained about it. She didn’t sleep sound again until he kissed her goodbye on the stoop.

Peonies weren’t in season.

A man at the grocery store called her “young lady.” He looked at her behind as well. She thought he looked like Mr. Stutsman, her eleventh-grade calculus teacher. Mr. Stutsman was older, angular like Burt Reynolds, and challenged her. She always liked older men.

They needed a Saturday. Absolutely needed a Saturday. She couldn’t remember why Saturday was so important when, last Saturday, she spent flipping through magazines and learning how to attract men “at the office.”

She saw pictures of hopeful girls looking over their shoulder in poised, awkward angles. Mary did not want to be immortalized that way.

Fourteen typos were made on the stationery. Three regarding her name. Her name is Mary.

She saw children dragging sticks into stores, children calling their mothers “bitch” in public, children touching the ground and then their faces, and children smearing corn or peas or beans onto carpet at nice restaurants. They all looked like him. He’d want these children someday soon. She just wasn’t ready.

Her arms got tired when she carried things. Her mind got even more tired when she cared about things. Especially when those things meant deadlines, checks to be written, songs to request.

Of eighty people, fourteen couldn’t make it. “Mike, fourteen don’t want to come,” Mary whined. “Baby, they can’t come,” he hugged her.

She forgot to include herself when the caterer asked for the final count.

He brother would get drunk and tell how she once farted the Super Mario Brothers theme song by accident, when actually it was him.

A horoscope she read off an internet site told her to “lie low” today and to “not expect anything special.” And while she usually views these types of prophecy as bogus, she didn’t want to rock the boat on these two.

Other than that the day shined bright for as long as it smelled of sweetly cut grass. The only reasons to do what she didn’t.

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