Ben Lof, excerpt from "Naked States"

But you know what I’m thinking? Frank said at the onset of November. I’m thinking no more clothes. Let’s become naturists.

I don’t know, said April. Winter is coming, and some of us still have to go to work.

Okay then, said Frank, no more clothes at home. Walk in the door, off they come. I think it would be good for, you know, us.

I guess so, said April.

It’s just for one month, anyway, said Frank, unbuttoning his shirt.

Hang on, said April, lighting one cigarette off of another, then zipping her jeans back up. What do you mean, just one month? I thought all these changes we were making were permanent.

I’m confused, said Frank. He was getting annoyed that her clothes weren’t coming off.

You know as well as I do, said April, that this is cumulative, we’re giving all these things up for good. Not just abstaining from one thing for a bit, then swapping for another. I mean, what is the goal here? Improving ourselves or not?

Bah, said Frank, we’ll do an inventory at year-end and see what’s what. Let’s just enjoy the wild ride we’re on. He was suddenly aware of the plastic mickey of Russian Prince Vodka jammed down the crotch of his pants, could feel and hear the little Prince’s beating heart, and wondered if she could hear it too. Please don’t leave me, he said quietly to both.



"Naked States" was the winner of 2021's Far Horizons Award for Short Fiction.

From The Malahat Review's fall issue #216.