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THE SHORTEST DISTANCE BETWEEN ME AND THE WORLO/Mark Kline OURTOWNHASnostreets.Pathswindthroughit.We'resurrounded on three sides by a city residential area. Three long narrow streets are aU that separate us from the city. One side of our town ends at the edge of a city cemetery. I love our town. It used to be an area of garden plots for people living Ui the city. People liked it so much that they began building small houses on the plots. People planted their lives here. The cemetery's caretakers call our town the nut town. One house is an overturned yacht huU on a taU foundation. It looks like a sculpture. Another house uses the shell of a rocket for an antenna tower. We caU the cemetery the ghost town. Some of us walk or bike or take a bus to get somewhere in the city. Some of us own cars and park them on the narrow streets surrounding us. My sister Asia and I don't own a car. Asia bikes to work. When I need to go somewhere she calls the handicap service. I use a wheelchati. The platform lifts on the sides of their vans make me dizzy. I don't Uke leaving our town. Asia is looking over my shoulder at my laptop. She asks me what Tm writing. Tm writing about our town. She asks me who Tm writing to. Tm writing to the world. She says that my writing sounds too stiff and that I should write as if Tm talking. Why should I write as if Tm talking? I can't talk. Asia says don't be a smart-ass. We've just finished eating. She keeps an eye on me at breakfast and supper. I have trouble swallowing. Maryam comes at noon. She's Iranian. She keeps an eye on me at lunch. She's a whiz at cleaning. Asia says thank Godfrey for that. Dad used to say "Thank Godfrey" all the time. He didn't like saying "God." Asia says Dad thought God was a butler or something. Our house is right next to one of the streets surrounding our town. People often walkby and stop to admire our house's wetid turrets. If Tm sitting outby our fence sometimes they'U ask if I Uke tiving here. I whip out my laptop and write that we love living here. When I srrule people don't always know Tm smiting. Sometimes I write a siruley. If I don't feel the energy to smile I don't write a smiley. Life can be this simple if you let it be. More women than men walk by. Some women stroll by pushing baby carriages. Others walk in patis and speak seriously to each other. The Missouri Review ยท 9 Asia says it's amazing how much I get laid considering I can't talk. I let my laptop do my talking for me. Asia says my laptop is a real hunk aU right. Not all women go for hunks. She says that some women come from the cemetery and they're vulnerable and horny from grief. I don't mind helping them. She says she doesn't doubt that one second. She says Tm an unprincipled little bastard. Then she gets up and starts mowing the lawn. Asia is wrong. I get laid about twice a year. Women taking their grief for a walk never notice me behind our fence. My last lay was a caretaker at the cemetery. She coaxed me into bringing my laptop along to bed. After a whUe she told me what to write. It was things she wanted me to want her to do. I didn't mind even though none of it was exactly true. Beggars can't be choosers. I love our town. I love small yards filled with tribes of flowers with hardly any space to walk. I love window shades ofAfrican beads. I love the row of porch windows painted over with a gallery of Norse gods. I love our mailman who stuffs the mail In my wheelchair's side rack without a word. I love one-story houses with a million angles...


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