This is a story from Williams's forthcoming collection, --FINE, FINE, FINE, FINE, FINE -- from McSweeney's.

Beneath his coat, when I first met him, his shirt had seemed to have broken out into an inflammation — into a lavish plaid or a strong enough checkered pattern.

There was the stretch of time when my future materialized on account of Dan.

We fried things on the stovetop and made coffee. Formerly, I had been disabled and chilled, the usual story — so then the hamburgers had become fun.

Dan was doing the job of keeping us together and he was creating a little garden at the back of the house and the garden was extending onto the beach and the garden didn’t have any grass to speak of, but we had this vision of growing things there. There was a daisy we were trying to grow. There was another flower that looked like an artichoke, but it was not only to be a garden of landscape plantings. It was supposed to be equal to our worth.

One day when we were out in the garden, a dog that had been chasing a rabbit, came up to us. Dan said hello and we kept that dog. It was a tan dog and it was a mix of the best available species and the dog was trembling. He had that look in his eyes. He had the heart to do any work that was necessary, but we had nothing for him to do. And, I was struck by how the dog was featuring so prominently. For instance, we might think to go someplace, but would the dog like it?

The dog had his leisure hours and Dan and I had been together longer than I expected and I was all tired out because we had indulged ourselves in every desire.

Although, occasionally, we still had a lustrous sunny day with lots of time in it, more than usual.

These days, when we tie up the dog in the yard we can barely bend to weed.

The weeds and the dead flowers — clumps — are like the stacks of our used dishes with the dribs of jelly and bite-marked bread crusts that are hardly ever put away.

So how much more describing is necessary to assess if we’re done expecting something even more fortunate to turn up?

I was stepping into a corridor. It was empty except for Dan. He moved backward awkwardly, but then his face rose toward me like a steel magnet and it landed on my face with a bump. He has an enormous head and pale-pigmented skin.

I ran into him again later.

And then there was a long, long time without my seeing another human being.

And after the last years were over, we were dead.

Diane Williams is the author of eight books of fiction.  McSweeney's will publish her new collection of short stories --FINE, FINE, FINE, FINE, FINE -- in January.  She is the editor of the literary annual NOON.

Artwork by Sarah Mazzetti at

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