Two stories by Tatiana Ryckman

Bad Love

While I am away Paul writes: I want to eat you like an apple. Days later, in an unfamiliar grocery store, I debate between fruit in the produce aisle.

I carry two Braeburn apples to a friend’s house. I place one in my purse and the other on the counter
with a loaf of bread.

That evening, on the plane ride home, I read about impossible love. Bad love. I think of Paul and want to scold him for being autonomous and separate from me. I momentarily believe it would be worth crashing the plane to turn on my phone to ask: Why do I have to wait for you to have read this book?

I pull the apple from my bag. It is not until the black of the seeds show and juice covers my fingers that I think of his message. That I remember weeks before, alone together for the first time, he said: I eat it all. The pits, the stem. Everything. The apple in his hand already bitten.

Madame Curie
(from The Book I’m Writing For You)

In the book I’m writing for you Madame Curie is a journalist who is working on a novel on the side. She is just another girl with a boyfriend.

In the story Madame Curie writes a story that goes like this:

He read the poem as she lay on her back. Her shoulders hunched when she lifted herself off the floor and rested on her elbows. When he finished, very impressed and in love with the words he’s just read, she asked, “Do you want to be with me?” as if it had been mentioned but forgotten in an earlier conversation. He laughed, “Of course I do.” No doubt, no pause, no pondering logistics of getting out of existing relationships and cities and carrying of boxes full of boxes and t-shirts up steep steps and the loneliness of change, just, “Of course I do.” Like it was obvious.

“Oh,” she said as if relieved, lying back down. “If you’re lying to me, you are so much worse than other people.”

When a much older man comes to visit Madame Curie she walks four blocks from the bus stop to the apartment he’s rented and tells him she will not sleep with him while hoping he will take off her clothes. And when he finishes reading a poem that he likes very much she lifts herself onto her elbows and asks, “Do you want to be with me?” And the weight of his hesitation is crushing and she knows much more than she wants to.

Tatiana Ryckman was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She is the author of the chapbook Twenty-Something and Assistant Editor at sunnyoutside press. She has been an artist in residence at Yaddo and her work has been published with Tin House, Everyday Genius, Entropy, and Hobart. Find more about Tatiana here.