Today we publish Colin Winnette’s Fondly, two novellas. As the cover exposes the innards of a thing, so have we, each day revealing another illustration from the book by artist Scott Teplin alongside excerpts from the novellas In One Story, The Two Sisters and Gainesville.
It’s only fair to give some warning when reading work by an author who “On a sentence level [is] playing with sharp hooks that embed the skin.” We don’t mean to trap you, but it’s possible this book will lock you in. No one can really say who has the key.
In one story, the two sisters were bound and gagged and put in the trunk.
They heard the sound of collective anxiety. They heard the sound of a knife, or a comb, pulled from a denim pocket. They trembled in their bindings, but it hardly showed. There were birds all around them, some distance up. They made a din like it was cloudy out. One sister urinated. The air was thick with that smell, then the smell of a lake. The breeze changed directions. Their captors were still yelling, taking turns. They were explaining something. This . . . or this . . . then this. There was the prolonged metallic ringing of a large rubber ball smacking its way down a flight of stairs. There was the sound of someone sipping. One sister imagined grease on a pan, sizzling, popping, arcing spots of scalding oil out into the room. She imagined her thin arm dodging the oil, then her hand turning down the stove. Something was biting her calf, her thigh. She tried to talk, but still couldn’t. Saltwater poured over their heads once again and when the two sisters came to, they were in a field. They were not bound. They were not sore. They were in low, scratchy grass. Their arms were streaked with dirt, their faces too. Their hair was wet. They rose from the grass at nearly the same time. They could speak again, but could not understand what the other was saying, or what exactly was happening to them. They wanted to walk home, but did not know the direction. They walked in one direction, toward the sun. One said that this way the day would last longer. It could have been a dream, the saltwater, the sounds from the street. When they spoke, the words went out and settled separately. The sound settled in the grass, sank toward the horizon, faded like the sound of a car passing or the ding of a pedicab bell. They met a road. They turned right. A car passed and they waved it down.
We don’t know how we got here, they said. We don’t know where we are.
–from In One Story, The Two Sisters