about the author

John Jodzio’s work has been featured in a variety of places including This American Life, McSweeney’s, and One Story. He’s the author of the short story collections, Knockout, Get In If You Want To Live, and If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home. He lives in Minneapolis.

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So You Know the Ice

John Jodzio

They were in the icehouse. Lisa had just finished giving Josh a handjob.

“You’re probably pregnant now,” he told her.

“Cool,” she said.

“I’m joking,” Josh told her. “You can’t get pregnant from a handjob.”

“Are you sure?” she asked.

There were other icehouses clustered around them. She had moved to Minnesota from Arizona a month ago, right before her fifteenth birthday. All she’d eaten that day was a half of a grapefruit and a nub of pickle.

“Are you going to tell anyone about this?” she asked as he zipped his snowmobile suit back up.

“If anyone asks,” he said.

“Will people ask?” she said.

“Some people will absolutely ask,” Josh said. “And I’ll be all secretive at first, to ratchet up the suspense, but then I’ll spill everything. I’ll also probably also add in some things that didn’t happen to make the story better.”

“I suppose that’s your right,” Lisa said.

Lisa heard the strumming of a guitar in the icehouse next door. She’d grown up in Arizona, never stood on top of frozen lake until a few hours ago. She kept hearing things crackle and shift underneath her feet. She did not freak out because no one else was freaking out.

“Are you sure I can’t be pregnant?” she asked him again.

When she got home, Lisa sat in her twin bed and gave her belly a ticker tape parade, tearing up pieces of her report card and letting it rain down on her stomach. She shared a room with her eleven-year-old sister, Jenni, and she’d woken up Jenni with all the paper tearing and tiny cheers. Other than that the house was totally quiet—their mother was probably over at Gary’s house or maybe tonight Gary just wasn’t snoring.

“Do I seem different than before?” Lisa asked Jenni.

“Sure,” Jenni said.

“More mature?” she asked.

“Maybe just a little taller?” Jenni told her.

“Does my stomach look any different?” she asked.

“Other than all that ripped paper, your stomach looks exactly the same,” Jenni said.

On Monday, Lisa saw Josh standing at his locker. She tapped him on the shoulder.

“I was worried that you’d be clingy,” he said. “I was thinking about the whole time you gave me that handjob. I was thinking—this girl might think that a handjob means more than a handjob means.”

Lisa watched him stare down the hall, miles past her. He slammed his locker shut, popped a mint into his mouth.

“Have you told anyone about it?” she asked.

“Not yet,” he said.

“Maybe you should start,” she said.

That day at lunch, she ate everything on her tray and then went up for seconds. The other girls she sat with asked her what the hell she thought she was doing. Most of the other girls here rarely ate anything other than apples. Allegedly the green apples had less calories than the red ones, but no one had proved it for sure. Everyone was eating baby carrots too. Carrots were big that week.

“I’m worried about proper nutrition,” she yelled to them over their fruit and vegetable crunching.

“What you need to worry about is the love handles you’re gonna have on your ass,” one of the girls said.

The next Saturday, there were more icehouse parties, so Lisa put on her boots and walked out to the lake. She knocked on icehouse after icehouse, but she could not find Josh.

The last icehouse she knocked on was tiny and the windows were fogged up. There was an old guy in there with a fishing pole, actually fishing.

“Sorry,’ she said. “I was looking for Josh.”

“I stuffed him in my ice hole,” the old man told her.

He held out a bottle of liquor to her. She thought about all the baby websites she’d visited that afternoon. How they liked to always tell you the size of the baby at various points—sesame seed, lentil, cantaloupe.

“I can’t,” she said.

“Good for you,” the old man said.

Lisa knocked on a few more icehouses and then she trudged home across the lake. She looked at her feet while she walked. She knew that there were spots on the ice you weren’t supposed to walk on. She moved slowly and looked for ice that glowed black in the moonlight, thin spots that would crack under the weight of one person, quicker still from the weight of two.

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