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Image by Randy Fath

Sue Mell

That'd Be Good


When Miguel came to visit, having promised to build a gazebo in her North Carolina backyard, things were fine, if geographically complicated, for Lily, with a whiff of promise for something more than just good sex interspersed between trips to Home Depot and her good home-cooked meals. And, as always, the shared history between them: the man she’d been married to for ten years—now dead for as many—had been Miguel’s best friend since junior high.

When all that was left for the gazebo was the painting she could do herself, he’d flown back to L.A. and that, seemingly, was that. But a few months later, when she visited her elderly aunt in Berkeley, Miguel drove up to take her on a four-day trip down the glorious coast.


A thrift store or two was fine with Lily—but not every thrift store between Berkeley and Monterey. And his unfathomable declaration—that he hates eating out—wasn’t fine with her at all.

“You’re impossible to be around,” she said, in a motel room with no view of the beach.


“I don’t like poetry,” he said. “Stop quoting to me.”


Silence followed.


“Home Depot was good,” he offered.


“The gazebo was good,” she added.


“Sex was good,” they said in unison.


“But this?” he said.


“Not so good.”


On their last day, driving her to the airport, Miguel said, “What about your kitchen?”

“My kitchen?”


“Could use some work.”


“Go on,” she said.

“New countertop might be nice, new cabinets, too—and your sink disposal shouldn’t make that sound.”


“That could take a while.”

“True,” he said. “But it would be good.”

About Sue Mell

Sue Mell’s story collection, A New Day, was a finalist for the 2021 St. Lawrence Book Award, and is forthcoming from She Writes Press Fall 2024. Her debut novel, Provenance, won the Madville Publishing Blue Moon Novel Award, and was selected as a 2022 Great Group Read by the Women's National Book Association, and a 2022 Indie Fiction Pick by the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses. Her collection of micro essays, Giving Care, won the 2022 Chestnut Review Prose Chapbook Prize.  Other work has appeared in the Unleash Work and Conversation anthologies, Cleaver Magazine, Hippocampus Magazine, Jellyfish Review, Narrative Magazine, and elsewhere. She earned her MFA from Warren Wilson, was a 2020 BookEnds fellow at SUNY Stony Brook, and lives in Queens, New York, where she cares for her aging mom and a gray tuxedo cat named Poppy. Find her at

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