Instructions: Apply the appropriate usage to the blanks. Due Monday.
sweeping under the rug
When your husband makes the following ___________ statement, “This is the first time I’ve ever been in love,” and then follows it up (because you look startled, like you can’t have heard him properly) by saying “I’ve never felt true love before,” register that the expression on his face isn’t rueful, isn’t sorry for the pain he’s causing, but rather is accusatory, as if it is your fault that he is only now discovering, at age forty-four, the passionate selfishness of an eighteen-year-old.
Then, think back to when you yourself were an eighteen-year-old, explaining to your mother why, instead of going to Stanford University, you were going to Connecticut State, because you had been ____________ by this very man (boy then) and couldn’t bear to be 3,000 miles away from him, and your mother closed her eyes so you were looking at her thin, blue eyelids, and said, “I know you think this is love, but you’re being so foolish, I just want to shake you,” and her eyes popped open on the word “shake,” making your sweet mother seem almost dangerous. (Though really wasn’t the danger that you knew, on some level, she was right? And you had to go to extreme steps to prove to both herself and yourself that she wasn’t right, that your decision was romantic and defensible, the extreme step being getting married at age eighteen).
You and your mother are both so adept at __________________ conflict, that over the past twenty-five years neither of you have ever mentioned that conversation. She has always been perfectly polite and even affectionate towards your husband, making him his favorite dishes (lamb shank, trifle with whipped cream and blackberries) when you visit.
But now, here’s what you want to do: wave your hand like a witch, and materialize the magic broomsticks that Mickey Mouse in Fantasia conjures to life. ___________ your husband, who has always been stupider and more selfish than you, away; furthermore ___________ away his “love” for thin, eyebrow-plucked, hair-bobbed DeAnna Marcuso; consign them both to dustbin and curbside pick-up; then call your mother, and say “You were right, Mom, you were absolutely right.”
Kim Magowan lives in San Francisco and teaches in the Department of Literatures and Languages at Mills College. Her short story collection Undoing (2018) won the 2017 Moon City Press Fiction Award. Her novel The Light Source (2019) was published by 7.13 Books. Her fiction has been published in Bending Genres, Craft Literary, Fractured Lit, The Gettysburg Review, Hobart, Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, and many other journals. Her stories have been selected for Best Small Fictions and Wigleaf’s Top 50. She is the Editor-in-Chief and Fiction Editor of Pithead Chapel. www.kimmagowan.com.