It was the only day she didn’t need to hear his voice…

Out of frame

Hi, a bunch of us are in a Literary Blog Relay.

Basically, one writer writes a 250 word post/story/fragment and then tags another writer, etc., etc. We can write whatever we want, so long as our posts begin with the last line of the previous post (in bold here) and are linked to a central theme; in this case, “A Stranger Comes to Town.”

The following is Jennifer Derilo’s post, using the last line (in bold) from Jackson Bliss’s contribution.

Alexander Chee is next.

It was the only day she didn’t need to hear his voice. It was the only day she shouldn’t have been alone. It was the one day she should not have been alone to hear his voice. To note the ironic euphony. Lymphoma. Leukemia. The tap tap of the tongue’s tip against front teeth. Long vowels slipping into her ears. Soft morphemes unclasping. Converting themselves into recognizable units. Blood. Cancer. Sick. Me. All these syllables stretching between her and him. The small exam room, expanding. He rolling himself away on a chair. She sitting sedentary on the patient’s booth. His gesture elongating her loneliness and their unfamiliarity with one another.

She shouldn’t have been alone. That day. To listen to that voice. To weigh the medicalized language sliding out of his mouth. Watch him dump it in her lap. Move away from her and stop. Head lowered. Eyes boring into the woman-girl slouching on the patient’s booth. For once, not fidgeting. Silence compresses her. Maybe holds her together. Lym. Phoma. Leu. Kemia. You look confused, he says across the divide. I’m not, she says. I’m trying not to fucking crumble, she doesn’t say. She thinks about canceling tomorrow’s trip. Worries about telling. Boyfriend. Mom. Sister. Dad. Friends. Self.

It was the one goddamn day she should not have been alone. Though he returns to her gingerly. Sweeping her hair away from left shoulder. Sinking needle into a mass. She humming upward. Remembering a chatty phlebotomist from last week. You’re a long way from home, aren’t you?

THE FULL LINE-UP, IN ORDER (Completed posts in bold)….

  1. Wah-Ming Chang:
  2. Jamey Hatley
  3. Stephanie Brown
  4. Andrew Whitacre
  5. Heather McDonald
  6. Christine Lee Zilka
  7. Jackson Bliss
  8. Jennifer Derilo posted at
  9. Alexander Chee
  10. Nova Ren Suma


  • Start with the last line of the previous entry.
  • Poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction.
  • 250 words.
  • Thematically linked.
  • Link to the next person on the list, as well as those who posted before you.
  • Post something within four or five days of the most recent piece.
  • Posts should start with an explanation, with links to the previous posts as well as the next.


Filed under Literary Blog Relay, Memes

12 responses to “It was the only day she didn’t need to hear his voice…

  1. Pingback: Literary Blog Relay: “A Stranger Comes to Town” « 80,000 words

  2. This, my dear Jennifer, is beyond amazing. You have turned pain into beauty here. Loving the honesty and the language.

  3. Jennifer

    Aw, thank you, c(h)ristine. It was a challenge to write, but I’m so glad that you encouraged to stick with the relay. Creative catharsis is good. 🙂

  4. wmc

    The pain is expressed with such restraint. Exquisite, Jennifer.

    • Jennifer

      Thank you, Wah-Ming. That’s the exact feeling I wanted to evoke, which actually wasn’t my first inclination. I almost have no idea how I got here! 🙂

  5. Beautifully written, period. (But even more so for those of us who know these situations all too well.) Thanks for sticking with the relay.

    • Jennifer

      Thank you, Heather. I haven’t written seriously for two years. This brief piece, though, was certainly a labor of (overdue?) love. This relay was such a heart-opening experience.

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