Excerpts from Address Book



1120 E Main St

St. Charles, IL 60174


Which one is you?

My therapist points to a print-off. The print-off is a row of naked faceless female outlines. The outlines range from thin, flat forms to curvy forms to very overweight forms. I think, different kinds of shapelessness.


I circle a form somewhere in the middle and I pass the print-off back to her.

She looks at it.

She asks me, is that you?

I shrug.

She says, I do not think you really think that that is you.

I cannot help you if you cannot tell me who you are.




507 W Main St

St. Charles, IL 60174


My middle school teachers organize a meeting with me and my parents to express their various concerns. We gather in my social studies classroom. In the background, there’s a trifold I made. It says

Kosovo: The Modern Holocaust.


The trifold’s filled with photographs of gray, bullet-pocked buildings and gray, twisted bodies covered in blood and debris. My social studies teacher gestures toward it. She says something like, she always goes a little overboard.


But that’s the way things really are, I tell them, and they look at me, then look at one another, like they don’t know what to say.


My social studies teacher breaks the silence. It’s too much. I don’t even like to call on her when she raises her hand. And it’s not just that she is…passionate. She makes these strange connections, says strange things that separate her from the class.


On the ride home, there’s the dull gray of the dusky cornfields through the window, blond leaves blowing off the trees, lit by the headlights.


My mother says, I just don’t understand you. I am disappointed that you choose to be this way.




23 New Orleans Rd

Hilton Head Island, SC 29928


This vacation, my mother keeps telling me how much she loves me.


I love you, she whisper-shouts across the patio.

I love you, she mouths when we are watching fireworks.

I love you, she says when we’re walking down a hill toward the car.


I hold one arm. My father holds the other. He rolls down her window.

Cold night ocean air becomes the flat gray hiss of highway.


I walk through the wet sand, footprints following the outlines of the waves.

I count 232 dead jellyfish.




965 N 2nd Ave

St. Charles, IL 60174


I am learning a lot in this year of my life, in the house where my new boyfriend lives. For some reason, his parents don’t notice when we lock the door to his bedroom. We lie on his bed. We are watching The X-Files. Mulder and Scully are trapped in a lab. They discover an alien parasite which infects everyone.


His arm brushes me, then it touches me, then it is pressing against me. He smells like a swimming pool. He kisses me and he tastes like a mint-flavored pizza.


His parents shift cautiously through their own house, through the stray boards, the white powdered shavings. My boyfriend explains that some room of their house is always being renovated. We go into his parents’ bedroom where they store the movies. On one shelf, there is a book called, Rebuilding Trust After He Cheats.


We creep down to the kitchen. His mother is sitting alone at the counter. She’s wearing a loose draping sweater, a black camisole, sipping wine with the bottle beside her. I think she’s incredibly gorgeous, her already dark lipstick, darkened with wine. Her black hair, half pulled back. I think, someday, I want to look just like his mother.


Years later, I bump into her while waiting at a bar. I notice she has put on quite a bit of weight. I never noticed that she has a birthmark on her chin. She pays her tab. She says, I’m sorry about your divorce.




772 W Main St

Lake Geneva, WI 53147


We drive to the beach and as soon as we get there, it rains.

We take shelter in an ice cream shop that looks out on the water.

I stir my spoon around the ice cream that I picked- rum raisin.

It tastes like a scoop of frozen cardboard in a plastic cup.


I watch the rain fall in long, glassy, diagonal spears.

I watch the waves absorb the rain. I think about the water rising.

I watch raindrops racing one another down the window.

I remember when I used to think that one of them would win.




1122 Howard St

St. Charles, IL 60174


I am learning a lot in this year of my life, in the house where my new best friend lives. She shows me how she draws. Underneath, she says, everyone is made of lines and circles.


She draws me sitting down. She draws me standing up. She shows me all my lines and circles, all the outlined insides of my body.


I try to draw her sitting down and standing up.

I try to use the lines and circles, but they do not form into a person.


That night, we spread our sleeping bags in her half-finished basement. The bare, concrete walls, like lying in the bottom of a well. She leans in closer and I kiss her cheek. I kiss her on the mouth. She backs away. I think, Oh God. I’ve really fucked up now.




1343 Mill St

Naperville, IL 60563


I think, Oh God. I’ve really fucked up now, as I am led into a windowless white plastic-covered room.


There is a blue box vinyl chair. A blue box vinyl couch. A fish tank with a stale dead minnow bobbing up and down.


They confiscate my drawing pencils and my spiral notebooks.

No sharp objects, they explain.

I say, okay.


They take my shampoo. Contains alcohol.

I raise an eyebrow. I say, what am I supposed to wash with, then?


There are 122 rectangles on the wall. There are 94 blue circles on the curtains. There are 9 ambiguous red brownish stains throughout the carpet. There are 16 ways to kill yourself in this room.


What is your plan? The therapist asks without looking up at me.

I look down at the round nubs on my new green socks.

After you leave, she clarifies.

I close my eyes and walk my shadow down the long white plastic-covered tunnel of my life.

Meghan Lamb currently lives and teaches in St. Louis, Missouri. She has published two novellas–Silk Flowers (Birds of Lace) and Sacramento (Solar Luxuriance)–and short stories in The Collagist, DIAGRAM, Necessary Fiction, PANK, and other places.