December 24, 2014

Dan Crawley

A Drawing Pad

I’d never dated someone with a child before. I bought Karla a drawing pad and colored pencils, trying to impress. Her tiny, squinting eyes gave away a weary skepticism. She only used her mommy’s copy paper and pens by the cordless phone. Didn’t I know that?

“This pad is much better. More space to draw. And the pencils are green and red and yellow and blue instead of only black.”

Karla dragged the pad behind her like a blanket and clutched the pencils like a torch and settled on the floor over by dining room table.

Meanwhile, Karla’s mom and I lounged on the couch. We gazed at her laptop. More specifically, I showed her all these emails to and from this married woman, who I didn’t know was married when I wrote that I loved her, who I thought was already divorced because she wrote that she loved me back. I let Karla’s mom read closely the emails from March to June of the year before. June is when the jig was up and the correspondence came to an abrupt end.

“This guy from my freshman dorm cheated on me with my roommate,” Karla’s mom said, “while I cheated on my high school boyfriend back home with this guy from the dorm. And my high school boyfriend, I found out later, was cheating on me with the woman who eventually became his wife.”

“I’ve never had that.”

“Oh, everyone can have sex,” Karla’s mom said sympathetically. “Not everyone writes to each other like these emails. I’m falling in love with the both of you.”

Karla comes over to us. Her expression held everything in as she unfurled a huge white sheet before us.

“Oh, tiny people in front of a huge building with squiggly windows,” I said, sounding amazed.

Karla said she drew her mother and me on the couch, looking at the laptop.

Karla said I could leave now.


Dan Crawley teaches writing at Ottawa University. His stories have appeared in Wigleaf, Curbside Splendor, SmokeLong Quarterly and other fine places.

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