We are pleased to present “Living Things” by New Voices author Landon Houle. This story follows Bev, a woman who is taken for granted both at her job in a retirement community, and by her partner at home. “Living Things” derives its power from the depth of Bev’s interior world. Through Bev’s eyes, everyday objects and occurences take on a powerful weight. Read on. You won’t regret it.
“The urgency she felt came from a deeper place, the part of Bev that dared to hope for something more than what she saw in the world, something more than what she felt, more than she herself was.”
Lewis and Mozelle were making finger whoopee again.
That’s what Lewis told Bev, anyway. Bev didn’t know where he’d come up with this term, finger whoopee. Maybe a relic from his own youth. It was too sweet, after all, too innocent to have come from Natalie and the other girls. Bev was sure they would call it something else, something a lot nastier.
All right, Bev said. She yanked up the blinds. Then, in that brightness, she pointed at Lewis, said, Get out of here.
To his credit, Lewis tried to hustle, but he was slow in sitting up, in pushing himself off the bed. He was eighty-six years old. Mozelle was seventy-three. Both of them were in their underwear, which, of course, because they were lying in bed together, was against regulation. When Lewis bent over for his pants, Bev saw the ugly scar on his leg. It looked like something that would happen in a war, but Bev knew it was from Lewis’s hip replacement.
Mozelle pulled the thin sheet up around her chin. She started to whimper. Sorry, she said over her bottom lip. We didn’t mean to.
Lewis fumbled with his zipper. Speak for yourself.
Lewis, Bev said. Please.
Lewis couldn’t get ahold of the little metal tab. Bev watched him grabbing at nothing. He said, She meant what she was doing plenty enough a minute ago.
I’m sure she did, Bev said.
You need a contract these days, Natalie said. Signed, sealed, and delivered.
Bev knew Natalie’s voice, but it took her a minute to register the new hair, a dramatic red curl that Natalie pushed back with a long green fingernail.
Better ask for an ID, too, Natalie said, patting Lewis on the back. We don’t want you getting yourself on the registry.
Natalie, Bev said.
Natalie bent to zip up Lewis’s pants. Come on, Mr. Lewis. They’re about to spin the big wheel.
Bev could hear the television in the dayroom, the announcer describing every detail of a brand new Harley Davidson. Then the indiscernible voices in the crowd. They could have been yelling about anything.