This is How You Say Conflict

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June 21, 2020 by The Citron Review

by Dana De Greff


When you’re in a new country, riding in the front seat of a truck passing by poplars, lakes, and mountains, the sun sending out veins of pink and orange, sitting in the passenger’s seat because his daughter is in the middle, a young girl with mild issues but whom you already love because she always asks for new English words like pieces of candy, and now she asks you if you’ve ever seen a sky like this one right now and you tell her no, this sky is like a movie and did you know you’re the star actress? It’s true, she is more beautiful than the purple lupines that dot the valley, and she repeats, boo-tee-fool, and then like a translator he passes you a note, it is a secret and it is not, he passes it over her head but she can feel the words and see your blush as you unfold it, will you spend the night with me? and you shake your head, no, no, stare out the window and feel the heat of the note crumpled in your fist, then she asks if you will stay in Patagonia forever and he puts his arm around her but his fingers touch your shoulder and without missing a beat you tell her that forever is a long time and you have a mother and father at home, and a boyfriend, though that last one is a lie and when you look at him his expression hasn’t changed, no, he is writing another note but this time he waits until you are out of the truck, until she is playing by herself in the grass, legs kicking in the air, her soft cheeks like horse hide and he gives it to you, I can get a room, or a hotel, will you stay with me tonight, por fa? And you don’t know where you are anymore but you think of vulnerable things like your mother’s scalp, your father’s glaucoma, one eye gray, the other black, the painter who accidentally stepped on Quincy’s paw, fell to his knees as he watched him bleed out, but you are an adult, you are twenty-five, not one word of this will be told to anyone, not to anyone except your roommate who has her own conflict and makes you wish you had stayed silent, and years later who will you tell except maybe a therapist, maybe an anonymous reader, who will you tell about the night, days later, when he walks you back home, leads you up a hill, puts his tongue in your mouth, then his fingers inside you, grabs your crotch and says he didn’t fall in love with this, coño, not this, and the irony is not lost on you then, or now, but still, every corner of the world you go to he will follow, from Patagonia to Miami, from lover to lover, in all the words you write and all the words you keep inside and that, that is how you say conflict. 


Dana De Greff holds an MFA from the University of Miami and is currently a Visiting Professor of English at St. Thomas University. She has been accepted or awarded scholarships from TENT, the Tin House Summer Writers’ Workshop, The Key West Literary Seminar, the Lemon Tree House Residency in Tuscany, and Hedgebrook. Her work appears in or is forthcoming from Cosmonauts Avenue, PANK, Origins Journal, Philadelphia Stories, and Gulf Stream Magazine. Find out more at



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