about the author

Isabel Brome Gaddis earned her bachelor’s degree in Earth and Planetary Sciences from MIT and worked as a geophysicist at Shell, then as a technical writer and copywriter at Microsoft. She studied playwriting at Freehold Theatre in Seattle, writing for television at UCLA, screenwriting with Corey Mandell, and creative writing with Jack Grapes. She also holds four certificates in embroidery and design from City and Guilds of London. Her work has appeared in Forge and is forthcoming in New Ohio Review, OnTheBus, and Grey Sparrow.

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The Collector

Isabel Brome Gaddis

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At an early age, I stepped out of the shop window of
everyday commerce, devoting myself instead to an indolent
kind of observation and assessment of the world. Having a
facile intelligence, I had catalogued the most common
human follies before completing junior high school, leaving
me with a lifelong disinterest in the world of politics.

With the twitchy, clutching fingers of the collector, now I
acquire the better-camouflaged sins of the human heart.

I adore the greedy love that smothers a yellow-green shoot
beneath a heavy forkful of compost, fragrant and fecal.

I feast on the intense self-regard of the speaker at the
podium, lauded by the hospital for children, his pleasure in
his own accomplishments as warm and protective as the
pus in a blister.

Dearest of all, my own brittle arrogance, thin and precious,
the last potato chip in the basket. I devour it, salty as blood.

Crows on the thin strip of grass pluck dried bits off an old
corpse, dreaming of past burritos. Jesus Christ sits in the
first-class airport lounge, his privacy protected by a
baseball cap and a lackey wearing a laminated badge on a
lanyard, but He can’t resist craning His neck to watch the
police drama on the TV—the guest star is a close personal
friend. An enormous work of stained glass—hundreds of
circles, red and yellow—freezes in the vast window of an
airline terminal. It will hang there for another twenty-eight
years, or maybe twenty-two.

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