If you should have an ex-husband, who first writes, then doesn’t write, then writes to the point of absurdity, then refuses to write, refuses to receive correspondence from you, refuses to acknowledge you in any way, denies you exist, then writes again, angrily this time, then less angrily, then angrily again, then leaves off writing altogether, not without a final declaration—he has compromised himself by writing to you, you should not expect to hear from him again—and if each time you are taken in by this, are at the very edge by his either not writing or writing, are poised on the side of a cliff, waiting to see, wanting to know, which is it: will he not write? will he write? until a little time passes without his writing, and you slowly take a step back, and a little more time passes, and you take another step back from the cliff that you thought would surely claim your life, and another step, and a few more, until you find you are on a path walking the other way.


Deb Olin Unferth is the author of three books and the story collection Wait Till You See Me Dance, forthcoming from Graywolf Press.