Mary Lynn Reed ~ How to Let It All Go

You imag­ine a life in a small Midwestern town where you teach Calculus at the com­mu­ni­ty col­lege and buy sweet corn at the Farmer’s Market on Thursdays in the town square. Your big yel­low dog named Jethro chas­es squir­rels up trees in your fenced back­yard and it’s all fine because you don’t trav­el any­more and the days are long but not so gru­el­ing that you wake in the mid­dle of the night with a cin­der block in the cen­ter of your chest. You don’t cry out in pain or feel sweat on the back of your neck. Instead you grade papers on the deck, sip­ping lemon­ade and watch­ing the sun set between the water tow­er and the high-ten­sion wire that brings pow­er across town.

You’re a lit­tle sur­prised there’s no one in the kitchen stir­ring a pot of home­made soup or bak­ing bread but if some­one forced you to be hon­est – for once in your life, Honest with a cap­i­tal “H”, you’d have to admit you’re not disappointed.

Jethro is good com­pa­ny. He isn’t con­flict­ed by the past or anx­ious for the future. He’s not afraid to be hope­ful and he nev­er vowed not to see you or made any promis­es to any­one or any­thing. He’s a big yel­low dog and he lives sim­ply, here and now.

In your imag­i­nary life, in that far-away dream, you try your best not to remem­ber the street­lights and the taxi cabs and the nights you did­n’t sleep more than five or ten min­utes because you were try­ing so hard not to remem­ber all the things you can’t ever seem to forget.

The sight of the moon. The sound of a bird. The brush of her skin.

Evenings are qui­et in that Midwestern life. Jethro’s tail wags heavy against your leg as you pull the blan­ket up to your neck, say­ing some­thing like a prayer. Talking to your­self again, or to some­one, or some­thing, not so close, not so far, not real and pos­si­bly, not even imagined.


Mary Lynn Reed’s fic­tion has appeared in Mississippi Review, Colorado Review, The MacGuffin, Smokelong Quarterly, FRiGG, and Whistling Shade, among oth­er places. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Maryland.