(the last conversation with Austin, revisited)


for          beloved               

read         broken

read       fleeting



for          we

read       you


for          I know I forgot your birthday                   

read       grow accustomed to absence


for          home   

                read       illness


for          I’m sorry                                            

read       subterfuge

read       sunlight




for          epiphany

                read       futile


for          I’ll call you soon

read       your phone will ring

read       you will say “fuck”

                                father will cry “I know”


for          invisible                                              

read       unnamed


for          when your semester is over

read       I am trying to be considerate

read       they will not find my body until


for          three    

read       two


for          it doesn’t feel like Christmastime

read       mother has purchased my favorite candies

                                they will fill your stocking instead


Elizabeth Wade holds degrees from Davidson College and the University of Alabama. She serves as Managing Editor of NANO Fiction, and her work has appeared in such journals as Kenyon Review OnlineAGNI, and others. She currently teaches literature and writing courses at the University of Mary Washington. (Elizabeth Wade discusses the origin of this essay and its form on the Brevity blog.)

Photography by Michael McKniff