Vision Problem

by Brooke Randel

In five years, Jane will be broke. She’ll try to run down a flight of stairs faster than her feet and chip a tooth on the railing. She’ll get a job at a bar inside a comedy club serving drinks to out-of-towners. She’ll move in with a friend of a friend. She’ll sleep with him then move out. She’ll buy half-price succulents and watch them die. At a job interview, a man in a polo shirt will ask her where she sees herself in five years and she’ll recite someone else’s poem.

Where does Jane see herself? In rooms full of people. In coffee shops and tattoo parlors. In the middle of an old-growth forest.

There is nothing Jane wants besides absolutely everything.

In ten years, Jane will be working in a professional kitchen, making muffins, and her wedding ring will slip off her finger and into the batter. She’ll lose the job, but make her husband laugh. They’ll live in a coach house where they can pretend to be sixteen, staying up late, sneaking through the yard, avoiding the watchful eyes of the old floodlights. On a whim, she’ll plant tulip bulbs in a garden that’s not theirs. The tulips will grow tall and pink and white and orange before Jane and her husband move somewhere else.

Jane will have two miscarriages and two children and still not be sure, ever, where she is going when she steps into her car. She will look in mirrors in restaurant bathrooms, run her hands over flamingo wallpaper. She’ll pay some of her credit cards off, but not all. Never all. Where does she see herself? Standing on one leg. Reflected in a lake.

Brooke Randel is a writer and copywriter in Chicago. Her writing has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and published or is forthcoming in Gigantic SequinsJewish FictionThe NasionaSmokeLong Quarterly, Stymie Magazine and Two Cities Review. She is a reader for Chestnut Review. She is currently writing a memoir about her grandma, literacy and the legacy of the Holocaust. Find more of her work at


Photography by: Nathan Guan