Story Ideas That Are Not About The Girl

Adrianne Bonilla


An optometrist who tortures his clients by giving prescriptions that are slightly off; A prose poem that compares the old Greek men on the local soccer field to Homer’s Greeks, their ancient, tan bodies darting across the green battlefield; A faceless narrator watching a pair on the beach, trying to determine if they are mother and son or a couple; A hotel worker who sees his family every two months, but the story’s language never devolves into sympathy or romanticism; Someone walks into a taxidermy store where there’s a two-headed calf. “How much for one,” she asks. A sweaty man answers, “we’re only selling them together, we can’t break up the band”; A previously uncontacted tribe comes violently out of Latin America’s jungles, carrying babies and spears and the bloated bellies of those who live off the land; An alternative history of language in which women own everything; A story that opens up a hand that reaches out to caress the reader, then gives one, vigorous slap à la Williams. Of these, the story of The Girl is the most sustainable, because of its arc, though I’ve spoiled it already. She dies. Just today a jogger’s body was found in the marshes, her underwear pulled down, handprints like ligatures around her neck. It’s unrelated to The Girl’s Killer, except in all the ways that it is the same crime, with different details, a shade lighter or darker, a curled tendril or long wave, the same dead eyes—regardless of color—now look up at the metal sky of a morgue drawer, which is not unlike our sky, dimmed as it is by all the excess light that drowns out whatever luminous corpses might turn a pitiful eye toward us.


Adrianne Bonilla is a graduate student at Columbia, where she won the Henfield Prize in Fiction for an excerpt from her novel Astral Cemetery.