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March 14, 2002

By Donald Edem Quist

My mother appears in the doorway of my bedroom. She has to raise her voice over the clamoring of Jimmy Eat World. I glance up at her, but I’m not prepared to reduce the volume.

     Sitting cross-legged on the floor, I have the liner notes from Bleed American open on my lap. I’ve resolved to memorize all the words to “A Praise Chorus.”

     My mother lingers. I concede and lean towards the large six-disc CD player that fills the lowest shelf of my bookcase. I turn the dial left and ask her to repeat herself.

     She says a name I don’t recognize and I ask, “What about him?”

     She wonders if I know him, he goes to my high school.

     As the band hits the bridge, my favorite part, crimson and clover, over and over, I offer my mother an inflated sigh to convey how annoyed I am by this intrusion.

     “He died,” she says, “this afternoon in a car crash on Midcounty Highway. He was sixteen.”

     I look down at the lyrics printed in the thick matte pamphlet. I respond, “Okay?”

     My mother says she’ll pray for him. She exits, shuffling to another part of the house.

     I try to return to the music. I raise the volume again. But the name my mother mentioned echoes over the chorus of “Your House.”


About the Author

Donald Edem Quist is the author of the short story collection Let Me Make You A Sandwich, and the essay collection Harbors (Awst Press). His work has appeared in North American Review, The Rumpus, Publishers Weekly and many others. He is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and a winner of the E.L. Doctorow and Peter Matthiessen Authors Competition from the Writers’ Workshop of Asheville. He is a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow and earned his MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Find him online at