The Four Hour Romance

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March 14, 2012 by The Citron Review

by Sue Ann Connaughton


Boy and girl meet, follow protocol. Sentences are elemental. Punctuation proper and grammar correct:

“Hi, I’m Chad. Do you come to this coffee shop, often? I’m sorry, that’s the stupidest line, I’ve ever used. Let me start over. May I sit here with you?”

“Hah! Sure, pull up a chair. I’m Marcy, first-timer, here for the open mic, but I just heard it’s been cancelled. Too bad, I’ve had a rough week, was looking forward to music and fun.”

They bend rules, invite experimentation. Sentences run on. Exclamation points rule!

“Marcy there’s a big party later tonight if you’re interested fun crowd trust me Marcy a really fun crowd friends of mine who know how to throw a great party please say yes!”

“I love fun parties Chad haven’t been to a really good one in a long time love fun crowds big parties aren’t usually that much fun so I’d love to go to one. Double yay for big fun parties!!!!”

They discover problems, act confused. Prepositions drop. Sentences are spliced. Awkward phrases reign supreme. Punctuation mystifies:

“‘It’s a big fun party,’ you said, ‘It’s a big fun party; it’s a fun crowd.’ Nobody’s here—no, no, nobody, but us. (Did he think I was stupid? [I bet you do: two people do not make a party; Chad the cad, you must think I’m stupid $*%>!#.] Did he think I would fall for this trick? Huh? Huh? Huh?) Take me home!”

They don’t clarify. Their subject and verbs disagree. They abuse commas. Ellipses sneak in. Periods vanish:

“Stupid? No, Marcy. I thought…They said…The address…did you write down the correct one? Wait, Marcy, please…. “Wait? Wait for …what, Chad?”

They refuse edits, repeat mistakes, overuse dashes:

“If you hadn’t jabbered all the way over–we wouldn’t have gotten lost–right Marcy–or are you too self-righteous to admit that???” “Chad, you said they were your friends—so—I assumed you knew—where your friends live…!!!!!!!!!!

They abandon story:

“Get lost, Chad.”


Sue Ann Connaughton is a former research librarian, who has been writing short fiction since 2010. Her most recent work has appeared in White Cat Magazine; The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts; Oberon’s Law; Linguistic Erosion; Unlikely 2.0; Short, Fast, and Deadly; Bete Noire; Boston Literary Magazine; Twenty20 Journal; Liquid Imagination; Six Sentences; The Adroit Journal; and The Binnacle Eighth International Ultra-Short Competition anthology. One of her stories was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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IMAGE CREDIT: Jill Katherine Chmelko. Protest Road, Winter. 2019.

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