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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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Lifelines

Today, while doing the laundry in the basement, I found a short story in a spiral notebook that I'd forgotten I'd written. It had even been published eight years ago, the literary journal long belly up. I have boxes of old notebooks where my dreams live on in longhand, finished novels not good enough for prime time, beginnings of short stories never ended, endings of short stories never given beginnings. I look through the pages, surprised that so much of my life has lain hidden in a box in the basement for five years, a box I dumped unceremoniously, along with old cassettes tapes that I don't own corresponding CDs to, when I moved here. I read the words and can remember what I was thinking but didn't actually say (fearing someone who shouldn't be reading them would—and did). I wonder if I have actually forgotten more than I remember.

I wonder whether I will forget what happened this year, or last, if, in the grand scheme of things, if any of this means anything important. But it all happened, the proof in the velvety ink. I sound so smart, so sure, so unsure, so depressed. So hopeful. Over and over again, like an EEG, the peaks and valleys of my life repeat like breaths. What I will change, who I will be by the next journal entry. Who I am instead.

If I shredded all these pages, will my cells slow down and fall away, particle confetti into the late afternoon sun? Will I be free to be different, or will the oscillations spike and recede, forming the haunting pattern?

I finished 20,000 words of the new novel. Thankfully, it's all electronic.