Monday, April 11, 2016

NEW! Short fiction by Joanna Ruocco

Joanna Ruocco

Defense of Marriage Act

Sometimes even the best women pretend to be men. It is socially expedient to do so in certain situations. The women pretend to be men until the situation is over. Sometimes they pretend for longer, so long that they get used to it and aren’t pretending. Then they have to pretend to be women again. This creates confusion. We meet an exemplary woman, one of the very best women, and sooner or later we realize that she’s pretending. She isn’t for real, but whether she’s a man pretending to be a woman or a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman we can’t be sure. If we could go back to the beginning and establish the facts, using testimonies and also photographic and documentary evidence, we might say, look here, she started out as a man or he started out as a woman, we might settle the issue, but in the beginning, there are parents and parents often pretend that their child is a man or a woman, and why not? In the beginning, their children really aren’t much. They aren’t men or women, they aren’t stockbrokers or teachers or plumbers or store clerks, fathers or mothers, they’re balls of warm meat, tubes of warm meat, chubby bundles of cytoplasm and diarrhea, and so their parents have to pretend. They pretend the cytoplasm is a little man or a little woman, like they had to pretend in middle-school with the eggs or the bags of flour, this is my child, he is… she is…. The parents call the cytoplasm by name, they try to connect the cytoplasm with names. Very short names are best. Frederick always seems wrong at this stage. Bartholomew, Jacquelyn. My mother, Georgia, is one of the very best women, although she might be pretending. She told me the truth about my father, that my father is not a man. She told me my father is a sentient tree, a barely sentient tree, or an inert gas, or a coma patient, a lump under a sheet that doesn’t need the name its parents worked so hard to connect with it. She said I could pretend he was a man if I wanted. I could pretend he was anything, except a mother, except a good woman. He wasn’t. He wasn’t ever. She was, my mother, a good woman. One of the best, the most believable. I never saw her otherwise. She said no matter what I had to keep in mind there was a difference.  

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