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“Jen Michalski’s second novel is an intense emotional commitment, but a worthwhile one.” – Ploughshares


“Jen is an astonishingly sensitive writer.” – HTML Giant


“Jen Michalski excels in subtlety that is made possible by her nuanced understanding of voice.” – The Rumpus


“Jen is a writerly heavyweight.” – Nate Brown, American Short Fiction


“We’re lucky to have Michalski before the rest of the world discovers her. But they will.” – Baltimore City Paper

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Fault Lines

I had the fortune of spending time on a jury trial last week. I always get picked to serve during jury, so my passive aggressive anger at the justice system begins the moment I receive my summons notice and doesn't end until the verdict, at which time I reflect on my service and am glad that impartial, discriminating folks such as myself are chosen—if my day in court were coming, I'd certainly want my case heard by a jury of my peers.

What is interesting about many trials I've served on is that direct evidence, even circumstantial, is often lacking, in criminal and civil alike. Therefore, as jurors, we hear an elaborate "he said, she said" volley between the defense and the prosecution. Oftentimes, we can't tell who's lying. And, since the burden of truth is on the prosecution, I have never been on a jury that has voted to convict or award damages, etc.

The whole incident left a short story/novella swimming around in my head. I want to tell a story of two people, as told to an impartial observer, whose events of their shared history do no match up. I want to reader to feel like I did during those days of the trial—that the real truth of the matter was never to be discovered, that the pieces we tried to fit together formed an incomplete puzzle, and we couldn't fill in the missing holes with our logic. And yet we tried so hard, because of our need, as humans, to have fault lines among people. In the end, though, you always come after the explosion, and there's never enough to reconstruct. The only thin you know is that ignition was fierce.