(from American Short Fiction, Fall 2013)
These girls, and they always thought of themselves collectively, like a dues-paying club, weren’t athletic or exceptionally studious or overly attractive. But they weren’t overweight and they weren’t goth and they weren’t special ed. They did drugs, but always together and never in a place where someone would take advantage of them…They existed in a no man’s land where the kinds of boys they wanted to kiss would forget them instantly and treat them like shit around their own friends, and the kinds of boys who wanted to kiss them were too terrified to ask…
This is the relaunch issue of American Short Fiction, which went on hiatus in 2012. The Fall 2013 issue should be available in bookstores soon, or better yet, subscribe. Their tote bags are also damn cute.
So onto the story. I would like to report that Kevin Wilson knows teenage girls. He knows them well. Does Kevin Wilson have a teenage girl at home? Did he have a lot of sisters, perhaps? He captures this group both individually as well as collectively.
With Lanie’s wealthy parents in Colonial Williamsburg for the weekend, she throws a slumber party with her 25-year-old ne’er-do-well brother in attendance. They decide to make a horror film with Wolfgang manning the camera (he won’t let them use it). Wolfgang becomes slightly more threatening as the night goes on–invading their personal space and filming them between shots for “behind the scenes” footage. The girls spend the next eight hours eating “radioactive nachos” and making knives and blood while snorting Lanie’s mother’s diet pills to keep themselves going. I can’t say enough good things about this story. It feels like a spend the night party I went to at fifteen, only a lot more fun. We mostly just drank our parents’ vodka and replaced it with water; sometimes a few boys would come over and do something stupid, like light themselves on fire. Wilson really makes me miss spend-the-night parties, which, as a whole, were awful and upsetting things.