“It’s Not Wrong You Know It’s Not Wrong” by Richard Chiem

I wear strange outfits when there are no people around. I wear only normal outfits when there are some people around, unless there is something startlingly happening to me like sunshine, and makes me forget the way I am or what I look like in real life. This is happening more often these days on my hands. I have those deep sighs again and those pauses. There are no women in my pauses but wind and more time to think. I always have some loud NO WAVE music playing somewhere from an electronic device. The important thing is looking someone else calmly in the eyes and not lying to them. Good eye contact is an art that mimics touching. Honesty can be calm facial expressions or an expressive face. Somehow we manage with compromise and wear really baggy Nike shorts while walking to the grocery store to buy more cigarettes. The time is late. I turn down my MP3 player and try to not feel embarrassed when the checker girl comments on my outfit. I have on perfect basketball shorts. She has elegant collarbones that make the conversation harder to settle or make steady.  The receipt says she is Veronica and the store feels vacant yet grandiose. I tell her an attractive story about how I got these basketball shorts from my Papa and my eyes hurt for not looking away from her. She says she sees me around all the time. She calls me popular or something around here. I remember committing to feeling unembarrassed while we exchange names. She says I should not be smoking cigarettes and I want to leave the store. I care about leaving the store but still feel regret walking away from her. Now when I buy eggs I go to her aisle like entering a dream but sometimes I avoid her when I just want to listen to NO WAVE music. She knows best when I am not quite myself. Sometimes she waves her hand to catch my attention. The song playing is so good.

More fiction at Used Furniture.



  1. “The important thing is looking someone else calmly in the eyes and not lying to them.”

    Loved that line. Well, all of this, really. Well done.

  2. This is fantastic.

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