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Party of Three by Mathieu Cailler

Last night, I died. A driver plowed into my hatchback at 92 mph on the 110 South right outside of downtown Los Angeles. I felt nothing. I was immediately seated at a Spanish tapas restaurant in what I think was Madrid, because the people at the table next to me kept rambling on about the pieces they loved most at the Prado. It wasn’t long before my parents showed up. They both looked like they were in their fifties, so healthy and happy, and their skin looked airbrushed. My mother wore a red satin gown, my dad a crisp shirt and bolo tie. When I tried to tell them how young they seemed, my mouth didn’t work. When I tried to tell them about my car accident, my mouth didn’t work. When I tried to speak to them about their various cancers, my mouth didn’t work. We all sat on the same side of the booth, which was cramped for three, but no one said a thing. As soon as the waiter arrived, my mom—in mellifluous Spanish—ordered an expensive bottle of champagne. The waiter brought it right away, popped the cork, filled each flute, and placed the bottle in an ice bucket near the end of the table. My mom thanked the waiter, smiled my way, and said that I should make a toast.


Mathieu Cailler is the author of six books. His short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in numerous national and international publications, including PANK, The Saturday Evening Post, and the Los Angeles Times. He is the recipient of a Shakespeare Award, a Short Story America Prize, and a New England Book Festival Award. Heaven and Other Zip Codes, his debut novel and most recently published book, was named the winner of the 2021 Los Angeles Book Festival Prize. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Christine.


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