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What Happens Next

Photo of Roy Kesey

Roy Kesey

what happens next

Was that meant to be a proper question? If not—if you were only making conversation—then very well, let us converse. But if so, then I’m sorry but no, I cannot answer, will not, won’t. I have no idea what happens next, have never attempted to predict the future, and do not intend to start now.

I am however willing to dict the present:

You have calmed, are calm, and that is as it should be.

I am also willing to postdict the past, or attempt to.

The universe, for example, expanded like a balloon inflated by a child, your child, your youngest child, the dumb one.

Then there was some sort of amphibian and you need to sit back down. Now please. Sit down, sit back down, do it now, I will not ask you again.

Thank you.

Someone turned a stone into a knife and someone built a fire. Someone pressed a reed into moist clay and now here we are, me here and you there—you, you, you with your unreasoning demands.

About the Author

Roy Kesey

Roy Kesey is the author of five books. His debut novel Pacazo (Dzanc Books, 2011; Jonathan Cape/Vintage 2012) was selected for both The Rumpus Book Club and the Newtonville First Editions Book Club. His most recent book is a short story collection titled, Any Deadly Thing. His previous books include the award-winning novella, Nothing in the World, a historical guide to the Chinese city of Nanjing, and a short story collection called All Over, which made The L Magazine’s “Best Books of the Decade” list. His short stories, essays, translations, and poems have appeared in more than 100 magazines and anthologies, including Best American Short Stories, The Robert Olen Butler Prize Anthology, and New Sudden Fiction. He is the recipient of a 2010 prose
fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and currently lives in Peru with his wife and children. (

This story was published in Issue 8 of The Literarian.