Chaste Desdemona

By Katie Greenebaum

I’m back from Vermont, sitting in the living room on a purple chair. The plants have not been watered. My shins are bruised. I still have the make-up on, but it’s smeared and blotchy. I wear Blanche’s dress, which I didn’t give back. I am not a sight for sore eyes. Only squinting will do me justice. I depend on the blindness of strangers.

Cory is not expecting me. I am not supposed to be back so soon. I’ve been in this chair three hours when he opens the door at midnight, his smile wide and cheery.

He works his lips like he’s sucking on a chicken bone, imagining a taut twenty-two year old breast.

A sight for sore eyes he trumpets, striding across the room. he scoops me out of the chair and folds me up like a baby. I am collapsible. My limbs flop around like a rag doll’s. He beams like a father.

He’s in love with Desdemona. Right away I can tell.

I want him to turn off the lights. They’re strong, like search beams. He won’t. I want to look at you, he says. But it’s Desdemona he wants to see.

He fastens his mouth around my hip bone. The skin is looser than he’d like, I know, like a threadbare slip cover or greasy plastic wrap. He works his lips like he’s sucking on a chicken bone. He is imagining a taut twenty-two year old breast. He keeps busy lest syllables slip out.

Desdemona, he would moan. ‘Mona, ‘mona, ‘moan.

I am dead. I am like a corpse lying here in the bright lights with my eyes wide open and fixed. I run my fingers through his hair so he knows I’m alive. It is handsome hair. Like everything else, he has a handsome head of hair.

His hands are all over my thirty-six-year-old form. They are eager, curious. His fingers twitch and scurry, like hamsters, scrapping through shreds.

I missed you so much, he says. I’m so happy you’re home. What happened to Blanche? What happened to poor, poor Blanche?

She died, I say, a slow, painful death.

Ah, well, there’ll be others, says Cory, stroking, petting. You were too good for the jokers up there.

Cory prods me and pokes me, brings the light closer with a look of concern. You’re sick, he says, not well. You’re green around the gills.

I am?

Yes, you’re green all right–an olive Blanche, he laughs. He can’t help it: he’s in the first blush of love.

I can’t bear his eyes any longer. I want to cover myself, run to the bathroom, throw on my robe. I run the bath water, sit on the toilet, head on my knees. My hair is static, brittle. It breaks between my teeth like cracked wheat.

How’s Desdemona? I finally call out, by the way, like I’m lying in the tub, scrubbing my back.

Oh, more of the same, call Cory. Not like she looks in pictures. She’s too skinny, and that is not her real nose.

This is kind of Cory, but she is not like the others — Desdemona of the lion eyes and pearly skin. I’ve seen her half naked, back-lit on posters: I know about the curve of her breast.

Desdemona, of course, is not her real name. She is a Movie Star, a Beauty Queen, a Household Name. You’ve known about her since she was a Little Princess. She’s lived a fairy tale: she’s not trampy or jaded or dumb. You never read dirty about her. She’s poised and graceful, America’s sweetheart, the one sophisticates, smart men who watch films, not movies, who read real books, she’s the one they confess is their weakness, their downfall, their secret vice.

Cory is paid to kiss Desdemona. (Oh, moaned his fried, Mark, nibbling his knuckle. Ah, sighed his friend Sam, the world isn’t fair.) He is not Othello, only Cassio, but this production is huge, star-studded, and Cory’s role is beefed up. Shakespeare in the Park, a famous director, a six-week run. We’re all happy for Cory, but it’s not unexpected. He’s a brilliant actor. For instance: Tonight, he cradles me as we fall asleep and says, Desde-who? He tells me I’m more beautiful than the day we met; it’s alarming how charming I am.

When I wake up, Cory is gone. I am tangled in sheets, trussed and sectioned by the panes and the late morning sun. I reach for the phone and manage to dial. My agent, Sara Lee, has a voice for occasions like these, and she’s been using it a lot lately. It’s conspiratorial, superstitious. The world has not changed much, she hisses. Men don’t write roles for women our age. We’re supposed to be home having babies. We’re no longer sexy, not yet wise.

But Blanche, I point out, Blanche is perfect.

And that reminds me, she says. Your producer called this morning. He was sorry to see you go. He liked your noble desperation, he said, thought you understood her perfectly.

This is a dubious compliment, I tell her. Blanche is deluded, fading, she sleeps around.

She’s got class, says Sara Lee. That’s the point. Through it all she has class.

Sara Lee calls herself a facilitator, an enabler, a creative visualizer. She is at home in his world: she lives for today.

These days radio is my best gig: my voice is tremulous, quavers, a combination of smoking and nerves. I have a long term relationship with a sausage company whose pink-faced copywriters are convinced they’ve invented the phallic symbol. They hand me the copy, mugging and winking like naughty boys, and have to bite the backs of their wrists to hold back laughter when they hear me read world like long, firm, lean and smokey.

I don’t tell Sara Lee that I couldn’t shake Blanche at the end of rehearsals. That I’d go back to my little converted horse’s stall in Nowhere, Vermont and daydream about Stanley Kowalski — not the actor who played him who was pimply and thuggish and stuffed balled socks into the crotch of his jeans, but the man Stanley, as if he were real and live. And Stella, too. I’d lie on my bed, Blanche-like, with the fan and baubles and think how lucky I was that I hadn’t settled like Stella, that, even down on my luck, I was still vibrant and passionate and had a life full of dreams. I slept in costume, a forties dress with tight bodice and wide skirt, hiding the new hips I carry with me like two saddle bags.

I make my way into our living room. Our apartment is a mess, a carton of chocolate milk on the turntable. I don’t know where to begin. I am one who needs stage directions. I’m not even sure how to water this plant. From what angle should I approach it? Should I be smiling? What should I do with my dangling left hand?

Cory knows where he is, what to do. He’s in the park with Desdemona. I can open the paper, read all about it. It’s a grainy picture, but there’s a crowd and a police barricade. I can see the tip of Desdemona’s tiny nose, the dimpled end of her chin, the profile of her left breast, tense and ripe, like a plum. She is in costume, the skirt of her voluminous dress breezing like a curtain into the frame, her famous legs, like a temptation, hidden from view. “The Chaste Desdemona…”, the headline insinuates. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more.

I have to get out of the house. Like Cher, I will stroll to Balducci’s. I will take comfort in the brightly lit whiteness, food polished like museum pieces, nothing dented, nothing stained. I will be casual with Barbara Walters, wear sweatpants, call the butchers by name. I will ask casually for strange body parts: a shoulder, please, one rump. I will pause at the truffles and do my charming imitation of a foraging pig.

You need a new agent, says my friend Gretchen at lunch. Who is this Sara Lee anyway? Where did she get that name? She sounds like a confection.

She’s an enabler, not an agent, I say, halfheartedly into my soup. She’s a doer, one who does.

Gretchen, like many of our friends, is Settling Down. Actually, she happily tells me, the truth is I’m not just settling down. I’m settling all around: I’m settling for Fred!

Gretchen finds this amusing. She likes the concept. Settling to her suggests the gentle tossing of sand in the ocean, the subtle shifting of Jello in its mold, the final congealing of fat around the hips. I’m so sick of distributing my pounds, she’s been known to proclaim. If they want to be together, let them be together.

Fred is a lawyer for a big firm in midtown. He says he plays the saxophone but Gretchen doesn’t believe him. She says this is the cool thing for lawyers these days to say. Gretchen is willing to suspend disbelief: this man, this bespectacled butterball, is her Fate. Now for babies she shouts with glee. Already she is storing nutrients, buying her wedding dress one size too big. Gretchen does love Fred, even though, she says, it’s not like you and Cory.

What’s me and Cory like? I ask, trying to sound casual.

Oh, you know fireworks, high drama, says Gretchen, fingering her arugula. Few are born into this sort of thing.

Cory and I fell in love over Hamlet and Ophelia in college in front of the whole campus. All the world’s a stage, we smiled: act as lovers and you are in love. We got married on Commencement Day on the makeshift stage in the middle of the campus. We faced our friends, preferring even then to see each other reflected in others’ eyes. The girls loved Cory. He was handsome, charismatic — I envied their craving for what I already possessed. It was our last great performance, we often say, the one that stuck.

What is this noble desperation the producer says I share with Blanche?

I tell Gretchen my theory: women getting older can be divided into two groups. Those, like herself, whose settling features and encroaching lines augur a maturity and wisdom to come. And the others, like me, whose every imperfection — a large pore, a tiny ravine — is a touching and pathetic reminder of what came before. In college, my delicate skin stretched tight over my cheekbones. The translucency, the faint outline of the blue veins, I’m told, leant me a tragic, tubercular beauty.

Gretchen finds this theory amusing but flawed. She says I’m still beautiful. She says we’re not old. She says I’m having a rough patch but that doesn’t mean I’m rough or patchy. She doesn’t understand.

The forces of erosion have been kind to Cory: the fleshy slopes of his face have worn away leaving only the bold outcroppings of his cheekbones and jaw. His eyes have settled into their sockets: protected, wary, wise. And he gets stronger and stronger, larger than life. He’s a late model Ken doll: tug on a limb and a new bulge appears.

Gretchen, like everyone, is curious about Desdemona. Smart? Dumb? Prissy? Nice? Has she fallen for Cory yet? Everyone does. Imagine, she says, a handsome, STRAIGHT actor. But, alas, he’s unerring. You should feel blessed.

Mmm, I say. It helps, I guess, when I’m told what to feel.

Gretchen says she understands how difficult these in-between periods must be for me, accustomed as I am to my role as actress. As consolation, she’s offered me the part of Maid of Honor in her wedding. I have been allotted three minutes for a toast at the rehearsal dinner, and Gretchen wants me to give it in character: the New Age marriage counselor I invented for a stint at a comedy club several years ago. I have all summer to rehearse.

Do you like this one? she asks me. We are at Kleinfeld’s Bridal Salon, surrounded by white, white frightening whiteness everywhere. This is someone’s version of heaven in the middle of Brooklyn: the angels have pimples and shellacked helmets of hair. Gretchen looks like she might take off, there are so many pockets of air in her puffed-up gown. I smile and nod and stare at the sequins. I am easily hypnotized in a place like this.

On the way home I buy an unauthorized biography and three tabloid articles about Desdemona. On the subway, between jolts and lurches, I learn that she studies Sanskrit, is an expert sky diver, is learning to fly. Her early success could be attributed to her preternatural beauty but also perhaps to psychic wounds: her father was loving but a known philanderer, she was ostracized by other children because of her stardom, she had an awkward phase from the age of ten-and-a-half to eleven-and-three-quarters when she could not get work. When she was sixteen, she was approached by a lesbian on the set and took to her (own) bed for two days. Later, in college, Desdemona was not the first but perhaps the most famous to assert that maybe we’re all just a little bisexual, coming to terms, in this way, with any tiny traumatic titillation.

Desdemona has had no known affairs. This is part of her appeal, according to her biographer. She has been wooed by many, but not one has stolen her heart. When reporters ask her about marriage, she shakes her beautiful blonde mane, and smiles, For Pete’s sake, I’m only twenty-two — I have my whole life ahead of me. Desdemona doesn’t curse or raise her voice.

At home, if I cut out the photographs I can generate a few theories abut Desdemona’s charms. The first is mathematical. I have a ruler and can unearth the proportions by gouging out of the picture an intrusive shock of hair, a branch of willow buds. The distance from the delicate narrow bridge of her nose to the valley of her red upper lip equals the space between the tiny creases at the outside corners of her eyes. Her nose is no more than two centimeters wider at its tip than it is at its crest, the nostrils are teardrop shaped and translucent, like baby’s ears.

My second theory is a colorist’s and can be extrapolated easily from early elementary school lessons in art. Desdemona is all bold primaries: the luminous yellow of her hair, the clear sea-blue of her eyes, the ruby red of her lips, all made brighter against the great and powerful absence of color, the whiteness of her skin. She is a perfect palette. An artist could dip into her eyes and lips and create the deep purple of plums, into her lips and hair and create the bright orange of fire. all possibilities exist and all other beauty is just a dilution of hers.

I run another bath, sudsy and warm

] Cory has told me the director, Vincent Pelle, is known for taking risks in his productions. Like many small men, he wants to make his mark on Shakespeare. This he hopes will be the definitive Othello, the one that puts an end to the raging debate: is Othello noble but wronged or a credulous fool? He will bring the Moor’s jealous image to life. The audience will experience Othello’s worst-case scenario and thereby sympathize profoundly with his plight. This will be a moving spectacle. Othello is the greatest lover in literature and when he contemplates infidelity; he must imagine a passion as great and threatening as his own.

Vincent Pelle has had a separate platform built, lower than the stage to the left. Just once, in Act III, scene iii, after “O curse of marriage, that we can call these delicate creatures ours and not their appetites,” the action on stage will freeze and the lurid green light of jealousy will appear on the platform downstage. There, in their glory, Cassio and Desdemona will ape making love.

Today, you rehearse this scene. You are nervous. It is hot, sunny: your tunic is drenched. You are on your knees facing Desdemona, her head is lowered, her hands lie flat on her dress. Vincent Pelle tells you to lift her chin slowly with two fingers of your left hand, and then to stroke the gentle rise of her cheekbone with the knuckles of your right. You find your eyes locked to Desdemona’s and are suffused. Something in the deep blue of her eyes, in your memory of her as an urchin crying for mercy o Henry Fonda’s lap: something about her fame, the appeal of icons, the mythic significance of her face in your hands something about her youth, her beauty, her wide-ranging life makes you feel something larger than love.

My husband is in love with a movie star and I am back from Vermont. I wait for him tonight like last night in the purple chair, stroking the cat. I have draped scarves over lampshades, burned incense on the mantle, I have swathed myself in silk and satin. I will win my husband back. This will be a great love scene. Scheherazade slinks through the speakers. I do not greet him. I look up from under my thick lashes and smile with half a mouth. My left leg, still long, I slowly extend from under the black gauzy frou-frou. I am poised to attack.

But my husband is tired. He stands framed by the doorway, his hands hanging strong and loose at his sides. Traces of pancake makeup and eyeliner make his face swollen, battered. Perhaps it is Blanche he is expecting — a familiar routine, a game we’ve often played, luring each other in character to bed. He looks confused. And now I feel nothing but tenderness. He has been working very hard. I want to press a warm washcloth to dirty forehead. I want to bathe him like a baby, carefully between the cracks. This is not the feeling I’d planned.

I turn this into a joke by peeling off my false eyelashes slowly, sensually, a ditsy stripper who doesn’t know where to begin. My husband is relieved. He lets out a loud, bracing breath and strides over to me like a swimmer emerging from a vigorous sea.

You’re my witty wombat, he woos, my wispy wattle.

Mere prattle, without practice; I say, is all your soldiership.

My husband is a marvelous actor. He covers his tracks with conjugal chatter. His mind is on Mona: he will have me play wife.

I know what to do. Tonight, I will rock him tenderly, uxorially, I will paste an expression of resignation, of stoic acceptance on my face.

About love scenes, actors lie. With lights glaring and crowds staring, we often claim, we feel nothing but here’s a mechanical gesture, here’s a stunt I’ll pull off. But I have felt many things, other things — the thrill of nakedness, the absurd commingling of nausea and pleasure, the urge to disgorge and the urge to devour. I have hated my partner for not being Cory, for being too much like Cory, for threatening to prove my love for Cory an accident of proximity, that any number of other men might fill in just as well. I have hated them for their difference, for enticing me with a chipped tooth or a callused thumb, a mountain of orange crackly hair, for making me think: this is a pleasant sensation, this would do just fine.

More recently, I’ve felt something akin to love during love scenes, something that under a microscope or on some sort of meter might appear identical in terms of temperature variance, or hormone exchange, or flood of blood to the groin.

Cradling Cory, tonight I dream about Stanley Kowalski. This is violent, cruel, but it has the heavy weight of fate. Blanche is star-crossed, but absolute. In this dream I am passionate, desperate: I do not equivocate. I know what I want.

In the morning I feel sick. I feel sick in the mornings these days. This was part of the problem in Vermont: a crazy lady, vomiting all morning, over-acting all afternoon, in the evenings clinging desperately to Blanche. I have claimed it was not over-acting, really, but just a desperate attempt to rouse the rest of the cast. I am not used to second-rate. I didn’t want to admit it had come to this. Summer-stock. Room and board. Tiny stipend. Cast uninspired.

Perhaps this is noble desperation: the knowledge that something’s ending, changing: that life as I know it is tilting, warping, swelling underneath.

I may be crazy, but I call Gretchen. Cory, I tell her, is having an affair. Don’t blame him, I tell her. She threw herself at him: it couldn’t be helped.

My heart is racing. I am filled with urgency. Words, I hear, can make things true.

Gretchen is disbelieving. Oh, come on, she says. Do you have proof? A handkerchief or something? I’m sorry, she says, it’s hard to resist.

What do you mean? I ask her. People are full of surprises. You want to deny him his grand passion? This could be the thrill of his life.

What is wrong with you? snarls Gretchen into the phone. You are his grand passion.

Grand passion. Bland ration. I want more for Cory, and more for me.

Sara Lee is more amenable. Titillated, in fact. Oh, you poor darling, she oozes, she gushes. First that, now this, what next? Come, we’ll go shopping. We’ll buy happiness.

A little later, I am in a sober gray pantsuit. Double breasted, with pearls.

Ah, elegant, dignified, coos Sara Lee. The betrayed wife. Your new role, darling. Let’s take pictures. We can sell this, I’m sure.

` I admit there is some perverse pleasure to be had. I pose all over Sara Lee’s office, in shadows, cheeks sucked in. I may be wronged, but I know how to take it: bills paid, beds made, hair sprayed.

I know precisely with what sort of stride to execute the walk to the Park.

Vincent Pelle only needs Othello and Iago for the remainder of the afternoon. You take Desdemona to the lake. The line for rowboats opens up around you like a flower. You glide to the front, steering Mona gently by the elbow. This is what fame is like, and love: flashes of color, sparkling white teeth, the smell of summer dresses: a venerating hush, a tension you can touch, a reflection of a blue eye in a summer pool. Desdemona is gracious, graceful. She kisses babies, autographs napkins, steps into the boat without a splash. She runs her big toe along the underside of your calf. You remember the black and white photographs of an innocent era: khakis rolled up, toned pectorals grazing your white tee shirt as you ply. You could spend the rest of your life with this girl. You could never act again, happy in your role of gentle lover, plyer of paddles, wooer with words.

You make plans for the future. Dublin, Dunkirk, Dubrovnik. Bubble Baths, babies, bliss. You will build a glass house on a precipice and watch as huge waves wash it into the sea. Then build another. You’ll collect art. No, better yet, you’ll make it yourselves.

Desdemona is sipping a coke at the Boat House. She’s much too good not to mention your wife.

Oh, we’ll be kind and generous, you’re quick to assure her. We’ll cast her in movies, we’ll make her a star.

My husband, the actor, seduces a starlet, romances a harlot, I’ll tell all our friends. I cannot help it: I’m happy, elated: he’s handsome, I’m dated: she’s gorgeous, it’s fated: a love without end.

Back home I am on the phone like an addict, strung out on words. I don’t know who I call, cannot chart my chatter: with each new trigger a story comes out. I’m jealous, irate, intrigued, breathless: I’ve been loved by someone who’s loved by a star. I’ve sunk to depths you would not believe.

This is a teenage fantasy. Tonight, I am star-struck. I wait for Cory in sneakers and socks. I’m pony-tailed, eager. My heart beats like gun fire. I want to tell him I love him, that I understand. I jump up from my chair when he comes through the doorway. My legs are around him, I’m kissing his neck.

He smells good, he tastes good, I’m sure he’s grown taller, the arc of his eyebrow gives me a thrill.

To what do I own this, little girlie, my brownie?

You’re a smarmy seducer, you Cassio, you cad.

But Cory laughs and tosses me onto the couch. He lies down beside me, head on my lap. Am I glad to see you, he says. A man needs a haven from all this melee.

That’s me, a haven, harboring secrets: I am the place where nothing goes on.

Cory tells me his day was full of disasters. His costume is itchy, Pelle a pig. The run-through was spotty, Desdemona has lapses, the set is unwieldy, the forecast says rain. I stroke his forehead, try to feel bonded, but feel cut loose, full up with unease. I zoom in and out like a camera or spaceship, the scene feels unnatural: a character from a movie has dropped into my life.

Reston Theater, in Reston, Vermont, let me go before opening night. They cited possible illness (health violations?), bad behavior, fits of passion. This was a painful breach, more like a still-birth than a firing. I carried Blanche inside me and never got the chance to watch her grown. In the past few days, no one has asked me what happened, how Blanche blew it. They assume I was the one to kiss Reston goodbye.

I’m thirty-six. I’m more of an entertainer than an actress and I wanted greatness. I throw up every morning. I am definitely pregnant. We never wanted a child.

I sleep in waves of nerves and exhaustion. I am sowing the seeds of deception. I have no idea what the morning will bring.

It will never be quite clear who told the tabloids, but by morning Cory and Desdemona are on the front page. “Honest Iago?” the caption inquires. It’s a full page close up, they’re hugging tight, their cheeks pressed together, beaming as only beauties can beam. In the bottom corner is a tiny insert, a woman in a gray pantsuit somberly stalking the streets of New York. Under my picture: “Bianca Betrayed.”

I can’t help it: this gives me a strange thrill, a quick palpitation. Cory is famous and handsome, and I’m a wronged woman. From all over the country outpourings of sympathy will gush forth for the woman in gray.

But this is hard to sustain. This, when the phone rings so loudly and it’s the real live Cory, not even elated or remotely amused. He’s outraged, apologetic, weary, concerned. He protests up and down that there is no basis, that nothing has happened, that nothing will. He swears he will outwit the culprit, slowly, craftily, sifting his way through the whole cast and crew.

It is morning. I feel sick. I don’t like the sound of Cory unsettled. Tonight is the opening, all eyes will be on him, and even more closely because he’s in love. This will help him, his career will fly now, the sky is his limit, he can call all the shots. He should not worry. He should be happy. I want to tell him it’s my problem, not his.

I’m crying. I’m sobbing to Cory. Please listen, I tell him. I don’t know what I’ve done.

“Oh!” So you want some rough house!” shouted Stanley Kowalski. “All right, let’s have some rough house! Tiger — Tiger! Drop the bottle top! Drop it! We’ve had this date with each other from the beginning.”

I couldn’t help it. I started to kiss him. Kiss Stanley Kowalski. I tore off his shirt. They couldn’t stop me. Right there in rehearsal, on stage in the daylight, I began to unzip him in front of the crew.

Opening night of Othello. The production is profound, daring, Vincent Pelle is a genius, goes the buzz of the crowd. Gretchen and I wait for the returning heroes on the terrace in back of Tavern on the Green. The scene is romantic, magical, the trees and shrubs draped with paper lanterns, the band plays a waltz. We sit at a tiny table hidden from view.

Cory and Desdemona do not enter together but no time passes before they meet at the bar. I nudge Gretchen and she watches closely. Mona is beautiful, radiant in a white dress and rubies, her long, graceful fingers graze the white tablecloth. She picks up a cloth napkin and dabs at her mouth. She tries to look casual, bored and distracted. Cory’s eyes dance from lantern to lantern, alighting on everything they find except hers.

They begin to talk, careful, I’m sure, to separate content and tone.

My wife’s here, he says, looking up at the sky.

I know, she answers, twirling her glass.

We must be discreet, my love, my perfection.

I know, she murmurs, kerchief in hand.

Please be kind, Cory pleads, be gentle. She’s really quite fragile, her feelings run deep.

I will, Desdemona promises. I love you.

And I love you, too. Not wisely, but well.

There is a moment of silence. They take up their drinks. Desdemona drops the white napkin and walks away.

Well, thank God, that proves it, says Gretchen, elated. Cease your jealous ravings. Did you see that? They’re strangers, she practically ignored him. That is not the behavior of two people in love. Alas, she’s all too used to gorgeous men.

She may be right but I can’t help it. It’s the music, the lanterns, the stars above us hidden by smog. I commence to cry as Cory approaches. The tears fall slowly over my saggy, lined skin. I’m glad for the lanterns, the distorting light.

I have not seen Cory since daybreak. It’s been a long day, a hard one, it comes to a close. He’s serious, not smiling, he knows what I’ve been through: he kneels before me, and lift my chin gently with two fingers of his right hand, and strokes the rise of my cheekbone with the knuckles of his left.

He brings my head to his chest, rocking me gently. You’re my rising star, he says, my guiding light.

Oh, see, I told you, whispers Gretchen beaming at Cory, it was all in your mind.

Oh Gretchen, Gretchen, I want to cry out, Sometimes there isn’t a goddamn thing but imagination.

But the air is cool now and I feel something settling, so I keep quiet and let it take root.

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About Katie Greenebaum

Katie Greenebaum graduated from Yale and received an MFA from the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns fellow in fiction writing and won the Balch Award for best short story. She has been a Pushcart Prize finalist and has published in journals such as Chelsea and Literal Latte, and the anthology Child of Mine (Bull, 2000). She has been an English and writing teacher for many years and lives with her husband, Josh May, and their children, Nora, Jake, and Alice, in Nashville, Tennessee.

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