Pamela Painter

After Diagnostic Tests

You dis­con­nect as clean­ly as if you put your mail on hold, took ani­mals to ken­nel, moved to Rome or Tenerife.  You can­cel din­ner par­ties, sil­ly legal ten­der, treat new friends as unde­vel­oped neg­a­tives.  You ignore that dent­ed fend­er, which any­way takes on a beau­ty of its own.  You stop lis­ten­ing to cam­paign speech­es, the Red Sox on a win­ning streak, any­thing with an unde­ter­mined out­come longer than your own.  Bach and Mozart lack the dis­trac­tion of lan­guage.  Novels seem friv­o­lous, and not enough poet­ry takes you home to any truth you want to know.  You sit with the cat in your lap across from what­ev­er fam­i­ly there is.  Your vision nar­rows to a door, a desk, a doctor’s voice.  You’re wait­ing for news.

Pamela Painter is the author of three sto­ry col­lec­tions, the most recent is Wouldn’t You Like to Know. She is also the co-author of What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers. Her sto­ries have appeared in The Atlantic, Harper’s, Ploughshares, Smokelong Quarterly, Threepenny Review and Epoch, among oth­ers, and in numer­ous antholo­gies such as Sudden Fiction, Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, and Flash Fiction Forward. She has received grants from The Massachusetts Artists Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts, has won three Pushcart Prizes and Agni Review’s The John Cheever Award for Fiction. Five of Painter’s sto­ries have been pre­sent­ed by Word Theater. Painter teach­es in the MFA Program at Emerson College in Boston.