All The Ways
I often think about the concept of Chekov’s gun, the storytelling device that, “if there’s a gun in the first act it has to go off by the second act.” I don’t think it always has to be a gun. It could be as simple as a word; or a lack of one; at a certain time. I met you in a history class where you spent ten minutes giving the dissenting opinion that Napoleon was a good guy. You used those exact words: “good guy.” Then, you got my name wrong three times, just by a syllable, but I still hold a grudge over it and will probably continue to until the day I die and my bones turn to dust. I imagine it engraved on my ribcage because this is the kind of thing that I imagine people could read in bones. I was half-tempted to apologize to you for this grudge you didn’t even know I held, but you didn’t deserve it. You still don’t deserve it. We stood under the stars one night, you pointed up and said that was Polaris, but you were wrong. I knew you were wrong. The constellation you were pointing at was Cassiopeia. But I didn’t call you on your shit, and I probably should have. That would have saved me three years of grief watching Die Hard movies, explaining The Handmaid’s Tale, trying to explain to you that you can’t fix a drain with chewed gum and a paperclip because you are not McGuyver. You got tickets to Hedda Gabler one night, and we sat in that small theater in Boston with worn out seats. You had no clue what the play was about when you got the tickets, but they were cheap. When we got out of the theater you wanted to talk about the way Hedda danced around the stage with a gun between the acts; pointing her prop at the audience, at the piano, at her own stomach. She threw her head back and chuckled and you cast a glance my way like you imagined me doing the same thing. I squeezed my knuckles together and almost screamed “Don’t look at me like that! Who do you think I am?” And as you were pulling apart the heroine, you kept getting the playwright’s name wrong. You credited Hedda Gabler to Checkov but it was Ibsen. I know this because I studied this play; it’s my favorite play. I corrected you gently twice. You shrugged it off. The third time I shouted, “It’s fucking Ibsen, you idiot!”
Lauren Busser is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. Her flash fiction "How to Unravel a Shawl" is among the selections for Best Small Fictions 2020 and her nonfiction work has received several honors from the Connecticut Press Club's Annual Communications Contest. Her writing has also appeared on StarTrek.com, Cease, Cows, Popshot Quarterly, Bending Genres, and Bitch Media amongst others. When she's not writing you can find her baking, knitting, or binging science fiction shows. Follow her on Twitter (@LaurenBusser), Facebook (@LaurenBusserWrites) or her website (laurenbusser.com).