portion of the artwork for Mary Kane's stories

The Problem
Mary Kane

Here is a woman. This woman is taking a train to another city.

Another woman is supposed to meet her there, in that other city, at the train station.

She has told that other woman, whom she has never met before, that she will be wearing a read coat and a read hat.

She told the woman this so that she would be able to recognize her in a crowd of strangers.

But she said this on the telephone instead of writing it in a letter or other message so she is concerned that the woman who is coming to meet her will be looking for a woman in a red coat and red hat.

Actually, her coat and hat have a story written on them.

The story begins at the top of her hat and continues moving down the page of her hat and coat from left to right but in a slight downward spiral so that the reader can either read by circling the woman wearing the read hat and coat or the woman can spin slowly in place so as to facilitate the reader’s reading of the story.

In fact, she has done this little spinning dance several times in the last few months, ever since she was given the hat and coat from a writer friend who also happens to design clothing.

The story on the hat and coat is about a man named George who dreams he has lost all his teeth. He can see them in the bottom of a pool and stands at poolside for quite some time in the story, strategizing a plan for retrieving his teeth.

Although George does come up with a plan and collects all his teeth, there is of course no way the dream dentist can return the teeth successfully to George’s gums.

Fortunately, George wakes up in the story to the sound of a tea kettle and discovers that he is still in possession of his teeth though he has been thrust into a rather larger psychic crisis, which is not resolved in the story.

Many people in the woman’s family and in her local community have read the story.

In fact, she has become a minor celebrity in her town where she is a favorite at art centers and coffee shops, and other places where people are interested in reading hats and coats.

But on the phone, earlier, when she spoke to the woman who is supposed to be meeting her, all she had said was that she’d be wearing a read hat and coat and she now realizes there is no way to explain that silent “a” to the woman who is, presumably, wandering the crowd, searching for her.


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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 53 | Spring/Summer 2019