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A Fair Trade

by Ben David Orlando

About the Author: Ben Orlando has published fiction in various magazines and journals, including the Bellevue Literary Review, and he was recently a finalist for the Killer Nashville Claymore Award. He teaches writing a George Mason University.


Marcie’s spooked. She thinks they’re coming after us.

She sat across from me this morning picking Cheerios out of her milk one at a time, about to say what she said every morning.

“Of course they’re coming after us,” I said before she could mumble the words. “But they don’t know who ‘us’ is. You know that.”

I sucked the runny eggs off my spoon and tried to meet her eyes but she’d already dropped her head and a curtain of auburn hung between us. She used to dye it red like this at Berkeley, before we dropped out.

I should have let her make the eggs but I wanted her to sleep. She only sleeps with pills and we ran out three days ago. And she doesn’t want to get more. Says it’s not natural. So we lie in the dark staring at the ceiling pretending we’re asleep, knowing the other is awake.

At the table I tapped her bowl. “Hey.”

She looked up because everything makes her look up. Everything makes her jump.

“They don’t have a clue,” I told her.

“Maybe they do.”

“They don’t.”

Marcie’s hair fell back into her face. She shrugged. It was the kind of shrug that makes my hands want to throw something at the wall. 


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