“Long Distance”
by Aysegül Savas
from the January 31, 2022 issue of The New Yorker

Aysegül Savas has had two pieces of fiction published in The New Yorker in the last few years, and each time I’ve been struck by her writing. She has two books out now, and I keep meaning to pick them up and read them. I still haven’t done that, though! Will this be the time?

When the story begins, we are with Lea, as she’s preparing for the arrival of Leo:

Lea changed the sheets when she got up. She’d bought flowers the previous day, tulips that she’d put on the dresser. There were carnations on the kitchen table, in a squat glass vase. She thought they looked cheerful, and not too fussy.

The fridge was filled with more things than they would be able to eat: olives, jams, prosciutto, cheeses. She’d bought wine and beer, cookies, breads, the round taralli crackers that were common in Roman cafés.

She didn’t think they’d be staying home very much—there were so many places she wanted to take Leo—but she had in mind a scene of the two of them eating in bed. Did people really do that? It seemed as though there would be too much mess, nowhere to put your plate. Still, she liked the idea: the sleepy indulgence, the sheets streaked with light—the hour, in her imagination, was late afternoon, which may have been the reason for the beer, though this particular timing would require some planning, with everything else she wanted to do with him.

As she evaluates her preparation, Leo texts that he has arrived. The text is rather mundane: “Just landed. Will take a taxi over as soon as I’m out.” Lea, though, keeps building this up in her mind:

I can’t wait to get there, she thought, alternatively. Or, Finally. But maybe this was Leo’s way of elevating the anticipation further, not allowing any release with words.

I’m excited to see where this goes. Please feel free to leave your thoughts below!

Please consider purchasing through Bookshop.org

Liked it? Take a second to support The Mookse and the Gripes on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!