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April 2, 2023 by The Citron Review
by Dustin M. Hoffman
The drywall finisher packed his trowels and pans into the trunk of his car. This was the last job on the books. No one was building walls for a while. Not now that anyone could be sick. Not now that some virus could sneak into your lungs worse than gypsum dust. He clicked a twenty-pound bag of joint compound into the car seat meant for toddlers. He couldn’t bring himself to toss it. Even if his ex let him drive his own daughter to the movies, she’d no longer fit in that seat. No one was seeing movies anyway. No movies and no walls. And no one would need him for a while—him or the expensive masks he wore when sanding mud. They’d sit useless by the outgrown car seat. So, he drove to the hospital where his daughter had been born, where blue scrubs once rushed to help his bleeding wife. He left the masks on the ER counter.
Dustin M. Hoffman is the author of the story collection One-Hundred-Knuckled Fist, winner of the 2015 Prairie Schooner Book Prize. His second collection, No Good for Digging, and his chapbook, Secrets of the Wild, were published by Word West Press. He painted houses for ten years in Michigan and now teaches writing at Winthrop University in South Carolina. His stories have recently appeared in Faultline, Juked, DIAGRAM, Redivider, Fiddlehead, Alaska Quarterly Review and One Story. Learn more at dustinmhoffman.com.