New Story – 27 Days

My story “27 Days” has been accepted by The New Quarterly, and I believe it will appear in their Fall 2011 issue.

Here’s how the story begins:

Did you hear the story about the guy in Germany who advertised on the internet for somebody he could eat? He found a victim, ate him, then was charged with murder. A psychologist told the court, “He feels complete now that he has someone inside him.” I clipped this story out of the newspaper and pinned it to the wall above my computer at work. At the time I wasn’t sure why I’d done that and I don’t know now, except that every day I look at the clipping and wonder about the mystery that is life.

What drives us forward except some sense of being incomplete?

Last week I read a story in the newspaper about some U.S. soldiers who’d come back from the war in Iraq. Before they’d left the theatre of war they’d been screened for symptoms of combat stress. They were also required to attend sessions where they were asked to talk about their feelings. The article said soldiers found this hard after months of keeping their feelings in check. Apparently at Fort Bragg in North Carolina there were four murders and three suicides after soldiers returned from the war in Afghanistan. The army was trying to correct this problem and prevent it from happening among the soldiers coming back from the Gulf. The newspaper quoted something one of the psychologists told the soldiers: “Your expectations and your spouse’s expectations regarding your sexual relations are different,” she told them. “They are going to want to re-establish intimate relations.” Apparently the soldiers call these sessions the “don’t beat your wife” briefings. When I showed the story to my wife, she said, “Not now. I don’t want to look at that now.”