The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Bonnie ZoBell’s “What Happened Here”


Excerpt from Lucinda’s Song

     Lucinda had been playing bingo at Mission San Luis Rey north of San Diego every Sunday evening for years. What did she care if a new person came, male or female? But three-quarters of the ladies playing that night—those old viejas—seemed to care and hot-footed it over to Ramón’s table that first night they saw him, causing a racket as they battled for nearby seats. They offered up lucky ladybugs to help his chances, charmed gerbils, trolls, rabbits’ feet and miniature Buddhas (kept hidden from the Sisters, naturally). They even turned lucky photos of their grandchildren in his direction. The old broads offered Ramón wily female instinct when it came to keeping his cards straight, like it was a mystery he’d made it to age seventy-eight without their help.
     Fine with Lucinda. More breathing space at her end of the hall. She did catch him peering her way more than once, a warm smile, kindly eyes, a raised brow of crazy white hairs curling off in wayward directions despite the hair on his head being the deepest black color. She’d always been attracted to Indian men. Not that she was attracted. Only occasionally did she wonder about the opposite sex anymore. She rarely got lonely, and there was always her son, Miguel, across town.

This selection comes from Bonnie Zobell’s collection What Happened Here, available from Press 53. Purchase your copy here!

Bonnie ZoBell won first place in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Press Award in the Novella category for her linked collection with Press 53, What Happened Here: a novella and stories. Her fiction chapbook The Whack-Job Girls was published in March 2013. She’s won a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in fiction, the Capricorn Novel Award, and a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award. She’s received fellowships at The MacDowell Colony, the Corporation of Yaddo, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, Villa Montalvo, and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. She has an MFA from Columbia University, currently teaches at San Diego Mesa College and is working on a novel. Visit her at

Sarah Einstein is the author of Mot: A Memoir (University of Georgia Press 2015), Remnants of Passion (Shebooks 2014). Her essays and short stories have appeared in The Sun, Ninth Letter, PANK and other journals. Her work has been awarded a Pushcart Prize, a Best of the Net, and the AWP Prize in Creative Nonfiction. She is also the prose editor for Stirring: A Literary Collective and the special projects editor for Brevity Magazine. She is a professor of creative writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

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