Is that it, some yellow rose of somewhere?

by | Jan 10, 2021 | January 2021 Writing | 9 comments

And it was still hot. The air conditioner still dripped from what must have been a window over the alley. Humidity still poured in through the front window, the one she broke by throwing a book at the tree roach climbing up the slats of the blinds. Pissed off at the roach and the heat, she had forgotten that glass lay behind the blinds, yet the landlord seemed never to have noticed despite his office window facing hers. The landlord continued to brag about his son at Harvard and even though he was nice enough, she wanted to spit. Fuck the window.

And fuck the frat rat that broke in last night, tried to rape her. She was startled awake by a dark shape in the doorway to the kitchen, blocking that exit, one step and the stranger could block her way to the front door too. Thank god he was so drunk he passed out on top of her. Then she knew who he was. She pushed him off her, but he was too heavy for her to get him out of her apartment. And thank god for Milt and Charlie. As soon as she called, they came; hustled him out, down the stairs, put him in his car, told him to get the hell out and never come back. They stayed with her until she calmed down.

She moved her mattress to below the broken window, closer to the door. She could hear the rustling of the live oak, the continuous insect sounds of crickets, the cats in the alley, the footsteps of neighbors on the stairs. Just that day she heard the frat rat had been picked up dead drunk and driving 160 miles per on the freeway, and he blamed her. Now that was funny. Yes, she thought, yes.


  1. Constance Malloy

    Marha, the agitation from the heat, the living environment, and the jerk landlord with his jerk son are so present in this piece. I felt the character collapsing inward from the heat, the space, the situation, but then a retreat from this when Milt and Charlie arrived, and the eventual arrest of her antagonist seemed just.

    I was lost a bit on the second line of the piece, because I wasn’t sure where that air conditioner was located. I reread it a couple of times without that line, and removing the “still” after “Humidity.” Doing so, I was oriented in the room completely. Good luck with this and thanks for sharing.

  2. Meg Tuite

    Martha! The frustration, anger, heat are palpable! I love that he passes out on top of her. And then she knows who he is. I was guessing the landlord’s son?
    the first sentence ‘And it was still hot.’ Great beginning. Puts the reader right in there.
    Suggestion: ‘still’ ‘still’ ‘still’ disrupted a bit. you might consider changing that up.
    I love that she isn’t really afraid as she is disgusted and angry at the guy who plans to rape her. and the friends come in to throw him out. LOVE!
    That last paragraph is beautifully visceral! And the repetition of ‘yes’ is effective in the last sentence. great work! LOVE!

  3. John Steines

    Hi Martha, what I love about this first off is how the prolonged heat has seemed to sap all alarm from this character. I can feel that oppressiveness in this piece. Though there is nothing funny here, I get a sense of this growing absurdity. ‘They stayed with her until she calmed down.’ effectively counters that yet seems a short-lived respite. That works for me in light of the absurdity of the events. There is more than a bit of pathos in the frat boy’s collapse. The overriding heat has so established the conditions, that the attempted rape is nearly an out of body delusion. The heat is like a dense weight, and the body similarly. You reference an emotional response with the above quote, still a mental disconnect (anger, frustration, rationality) persists. That the frat boy would blame the previous nite’s victim for his speeding adds to that oppressive reality. Nicely cohesive.

    • Martha Jackson Kaplan

      Thank you, John. I was concerned that I didn’t find a way to express the terror of the moment when the narrator sees the hulking shadow of at that moment, an unknown male in her apartment. But it seemed like it would destroy the surreal sense of it which was intended. So,I appreciate your reading.

  4. Sara Comito

    Martha! For all the stagnancy of the heat and sucking stuckness – this I understand so well – the contrast is a satisfying sense of agency. Damn woman not letting him brutalize her and then she’s at fault for his fate. Ha! Unfortunately I also have an experience with this. That turn is so quick like corn popping off a hot pan. And hell yeah, she’s got friends to help her because that’s a survival resource too, and is a reflection of her character. My one thing is the title. It’s lovely and seeking, but does it fit the badassery of the survivor here? Very nice draft.

    • Martha Jackson Kaplan

      Thank you, Sara– and yes, real encounter and only the half of it. The title was merely an attempt to hint at the location– the song the frats always sang– The Yellow Rose of Texas”– some serenade! I think I’ll look for a better variation for the title. Thank you.

  5. Jonathan Cardew


    This is a perfect a little micro in the making! Love the route in: “And it was still hot.” In fact, this piece transitions so well between paragraphs, “And fuck the frat rat.”

    This is just a how about: What if you started each sentence with “And…” ending with “And, yes, she thought, and yes” This might give it a breathless denouement.

    Thanks for sharing!


  6. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    Thanks, Jonathan. I like that suggestion. I can see how it would tie together with “And it was still hot,” “And fuck the frat rat.”

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