Alice has recently moved to Los Angeles and gets a job in flagship fashion store selling provocative clothing, that may, or may not be, American Apparel. She meets an older, ostensibly more confident woman named Oona who describes how she’s been selling her dirty underwear for money. In need of some extra cash herself and wanting to fit in with Oona’s crowd, Alice does the same. It works for a while and then things take a turn for the worst. Paralysed, Alice dissociates from the situation and thinks about how she will fictionalise the story when telling Oona the day after. Here, fiction is not the saviour it’s often portrayed as, it’s a trauma. This is a fable about the perils of turning too much of life into short stories.
First published in Granta 139: Best of Young American Novelists 3, Spring 2017, and available to subscribers to read here, and collected in Daddy, Chatto & Windus, 2020