Lit Thursday: The Bed Moved

An excerpt from Rebecca Schiff's stunning debut The Bed Moved: Stories

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There were film majors  in my bed—they talked about  film. There  were  poets,  coxswains, guys trying  to grow beards.

"Kids get really scared when their dad grows a beard," I said. Finally,  I had  an  audience. I helped a pitcher understand the implications of his team's hazing  ritual. I encouraged in- decisive dancer-anthropologists to double  major.  When a guy apologized for being  sweaty,  I got him a small  towel.  I made people feel good.

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Then I took a break.  Then I forgot that  I was taking  a break. Spring was here.  Jake was here.  Also Josh. One dancer- anthropologist  dropped  anthropology,  just   did   dance.  He danced with honors.

"Mazel tov," I said.

The bed  moved.  Movers moved  it. Movers asked  what  my dad did, why he wasn't moving the bed.

New guys came to the bed. New guys had been  in the Gulf War,  had  been  bisexual, had  taken  out  teeth, had  taken  out ads. Musical types left CDs with their  names  markered on—I kept  a pile. I was careful  not  to smudge them,  scratch  them. (Scratch that,  I wasn't careful.)

"So many musicians in this city," I observed, topless.

Boxer shorts  were  like laundry even  on their  bodies.  Guys burrowed down for not long enough, popped up, smiled.

Did I have something? Did I have anything? 

I did.

Something, anything, went  in the trash,  except  one, which didn't. One hadn't gone on in the first place.

After, cell phones jingled: Be Bop, Mariachi Medley, Chicken

Dance, Die Alone.

Nervous,  I felt nervous. There  was mariachi in the  trains, or else it was just one guy playing  "La Bamba." I slow-danced into  clinic waiting rooms.  Receptionists told  me to relax  and try to enjoy the weekend, since we wouldn't know anything till Monday.  Sunday  I lost it, banged my face against the bed.  Be easy, girl, I thought. Be bop. Something was definitely  wrong with  me—I never  called  myself "girl." I played  CDs, but  CDs by artists  who  had  already succeeded. They  had  succeeded for a reason. They weren't wasting time  in my bed.  One did pass through the bed, to brag. He had been divorced, had met Madonna.

He asked, "Is this what women are like now?"

From the book THE BED MOVED by Rebecca Schiff, copyright © 2016 by Rebecca Schiff. Published by arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

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