From Issue 16: "Resolution," by Stephen Delaney


Stephen Delaney

Reading time: 3 minutes

A note from Fiction Editor Yi Shun Lai:  You could read "Resolution" in a flash, which I did. And you'd enjoy it. But then you'd feel compelled to go back and read it slowly, taking your time with it. What Delaney does here is to somehow turn the idea of a resolution on its ear, so that it's much larger than a promise you make yourself for the next year; much more internal than speaking your determination into existence; much more about the nostalgia we have for the people we may never become. 

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To not be the guy who, when asked during lunch last week, “What’s your resolution?” couldn’t say it, my word bag empty as you chewed your filet mignon, eyes gem blue and waiting—vibrant against my drab—finally muttering that I hadn’t decided yet (as your pupils flit down, said I’d missed one more chance to be pleasant), but who for the next few days kept at it: while watching a baby crane fly in the kitchen—stuck in its sad body, mosquito parts wobbling on stilts—I whispered, To be myself when I’m with you; then later, sitting on the couch as we watched my “depressing film” (my split mind latched on you—meaty thigh, twitchy thumb, eyes judging him so judging me), I formed, To own my thoughts; and this afternoon, while peering out the front window as you mowed the scraggy lawn, my gaze on your slick chest, then a roving ant between the panes, then your chest, etc., etc., I thought, To balance you-and-me space … but instead be myself and half a couple, finding a resolution true to both of them (I’m saying it now over dinner—half-stuttered but only half) and confessing it until your brow smoothes out, until something clicks and our eyes become windows: strange as this new year.


 Stephen had this to say about "Resolution": 

What if resolutions, rather than conforming to norms and givens, voiced our honest needs? Might not sharing them, then, be risky, chancing to reveal more of ourselves than we’re ready to show or that others are ready to see? Small conflicts grew this story: the public and private selves at odds—that struggle to bring one’s inner life, with all its disorder and richness, into the light of day—and the tussle between speech and thought when we strain to reach another. Can words bridge the gulf between people? Maybe, maybe not. But maybe the striving is what counts.

A writer and editor, Stephen Delaney has had work featured in Crazyhorse, Euphony, New World Writing, Per Contra, Requited, Gingerbread House, and The Believer online. He tweets on writing craft as @smallestwords.