The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: This. This. This. Is. Love. Love. Love. by Jennifer Wortman

This selection, chosen by Managing Editor Krista Cox, is an excerpt from This. This. This. Is. Love. Love. Love. by Jennifer Wortman, released by Split Lip Press in 2019. 

The Men I Love

Content warning for suicide

One of the men I love’s pointing a gun at his head, and I tell him I’ll do anything if he puts down that gun. This is the man I’m not leaving my husband for. But now I tell him I’m leaving my husband. I call my husband, so the man can hear, and tell my husband I’m leaving him. My husband isn’t surprised, but he’s pissed. He knows about this man, because we have the kind of marriage where I can tell him about this man, and because we have that kind of marriage, I wasn’t going to leave him. But now it turns out I’m leaving him, because this man has a gun to his head, which is like putting a gun to my head: I love him that much. I love the kind of man who will put a gun to his head, and therefore, by implication, my head. My husband, though pissed, will not put a gun to his head over any of this, and I also love the kind of man who will not put a gun to his head over any of this. But it turns out the gun wins. I don’t own a gun: my willingness has limits. The man I love’s willingness knows no bounds. Life is easier that way, when you are willing to shoot people to protect yourself or shoot yourself to protect other people. When you are willing to leave the husband you love for the man you love or leave the man you love for the husband you love. But now I love this man extra, because his gun has released my willingness, a wildcat fresh from the cage. I tell my husband we’ll talk later. I hold out my hand. The man I love places the gun in it, gently, like a pet newly dead.

Jennifer Wortman is the author of the story collection This. This. This. Is. Love. Love. Love. (Split/Lip Press, 2019), named the Westword Best of Denver 2020 pick for best new short-story collection, the 2019 Foreword INDIES bronze winner for short stories, and a finalist for the Colorado Book Awards and the High Plains Book Awards. Her work appears in TriQuarterly, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Electric Literature, Brevity, Best Small FictionsBest Microfictions, and elsewhere, and has been cited as distinguished in Best American Short Stories. A recipient of fellowships from MacDowell and the National Endowment for the Arts, she lives with her family in Colorado, where she teaches at Lighthouse Writers Workshop and serves as associate fiction editor for Colorado Review.


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