For you

I’ve been coming to the Elk since undergrad, since I was 21, and the creative writing students read at the end of the bar. Since some angry dude read his graphic piece about anal and a family complained and readings were forbidden.

He’s been a server here since before my son was born. He has the most glorious handlebar mustache.

Years ago, he asked me if the girl I was with was my partner. “I don’t mean to make you feel weird,” he said, “but I was raised by two women and I just want to tell you that your son is lucky.”

He used to come into Auntie’s when I worked there. I see him tooling around on his Vespa. Such a small town.

Tonight he called out to us as we were leaving. He was across the street, not even on shift at the restaurant.

“Ladies! Will you wait right here? Just here. I’ll only be a moment.” He ran inside and came out with a pair of bug-eyed sunglasses. Gavin promptly intercepted them and slid them onto his face. Entirely rockstar at 7 years old.

“I love these glasses!” The fellow tells us. “We kept them at the bar for a while, but no one came and then one of the guys said they belonged to those rad ladies with the little boy and I’ve been looking for you for weeks. I’ve been looking and looking. I’m so glad I could return them to you.”

He can’t know. He can’t know what such a vigil meant. To keep watch for us. An act of kindness. An act of faith. I have such fondness for him. Such love.

I’ve been afraid of the disquiet inside my head. My inability to focus. To communicate. I can’t make sentences work the way they’re supposed to. I can’t just grab people and hold them. I can’t stand at the copier and cry because I made three copies instead of two. It just isn’t cricket. It just isn’t.

Will you wait right here? Just here. I’ll only be a moment.

The task is to love one another. Just that. To love as though there is no injury. It isn’t a little thing. There are no little things. Everything matters. Everything.

I’m so glad I could return them to you.

I’ve been looking for you for weeks.

10 thoughts on “For you”

  1. Imagine being looked for, being held in presence, anticipation, in such a way that eyes scan all space and hope rests patiently in the heart. You are right Jill Malone, you are right. There are no little things and everything matters.

  2. Shelly Wilson

    I love what you held on to for the title of this. But I think you’re wrong: you can totally just grab people and hold them.

        1. It’s probably the same impulse that makes me want to reply to comments with a <3 --- unfortunately, my site refuses to make a heart.

    1. That’s the way I define grace in my head. To love as though there is no injury. And man, it’s so necessary. And so hard. And such a gift.

  3. Jill, you have such great courage to write something like this. That is why I love you. I am still uneasy making such statements out loud, or even in print, but I will get there. The remainder of humanity can keep keepin’ on with their twisted, crazy ways, but we’re out there. Just keep an eye out.

    -E

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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