It was (a new world record)

by | Jan 13, 2023

Two years ago I cried more than anyone on earth. Someone had to check and it took them a long time but it was true. So many walnuts fell from the tree while they were doing it but the sugar on the table stayed where it was, refused to dislodge.

So the aunts naturally assumed it was them, tired of driving all the way from Nebraska they marched in without even a hello. Each took a grain of sugar and shoved it in the mailbox. It won’t fit in the car they said. In fact neither did they so they took the bus, which stopped at my house once and only one time. I really didn’t like them but I missed them when they were gone, like an elephant misses the feeling of walking on a trampoline when it’s the size of a goose before it turns into Canada. Lost youth is like that. Anyway, that’s the story of how I cried but I don’t have anything to show for it, not even the tears.


  1. Jonathan Cardew

    Loved this, Robyn!

    The illogic of the opening gives way to this wonderful tale of aunties and regret. I especially love this line:

    “So many walnuts fell from the tree while they were doing it but the sugar on the table stayed where it was, refused to dislodge.”

    The specificity of it is so enticing.

    I also loved the elephant to goose to Canada bit and I think you could go to town even more with this element if you continue with it (which I hope you will!).


    • Robyn Schelenz

      thank you jonathan for these comments! i’m such a slow editor (it usually takes me a few days or a week to pick something back up again) but i’ll have that in mind when i pick it back up! thank you again

  2. Benjamin Niespodziany

    That first line masterfully throws you into this story. It’s heart-wrenching and bold and such a statement! The second sentence is on-point as well. I love it. For the third one, I think we could see a bit of a trim for more of a punch (just a suggestion) — “Many walnuts fell from the tree but the sugar on the table refused to dislodge.” Love the contrast between those two visuals in the final line, and what a three-sentence banger. 

    I love the entrance of the aunts here. It reminds me of The Triplets of Belleville for some reason (one of my favorite movies). To add to the weird, I’d like to see “the car” removed, so it reads “each took a grain of sugar and shoved it in the mailbox. it won’t fit, they said. In fact, neither did they, so they took the bus.” – Makes it a bit more Looney Tunes in a cool way. The “goose before it turns into Canada” is such a stunner of a line. So fun and strange. And to have it follow with “lost youth is like that” — I think that’s the heart of this story/piece. I think you might even consider ending on that line. It packs a wallop. 

    • Robyn Schelenz

      hi ben, thanks for these comments and engaging so much with my work this weekend. i’ve started playing with those ideas in the aunts section and i do see what you mean with the “Lost youth is like that” ending. now i have to add triplets of belleville to my watch list!

  3. Koss (No Last Name)

    So many wonderful turns in this, Robyn, including how the goose turns into Canada. Love the opening line too, how you cried more than anyone on earth. It is a childish phrase, yet powerful and draws you in. Love this.

    • Robyn Schelenz

      thank you for those characterizations koss! i think that’s a good way of describing where i was starting from with that 🙂

  4. Ryan Griffith

    I love the opening line and all the wonderful turns this piece takes. The intimacy of the voice really invites me into the strange world of this piece. Great work!

  5. Meg Tuite

    Hi Robyn,
    This is a joy to read. It’s like a wild ride on a curving highway! LOVE it ALL.

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