A Sudden Illness

How my life changed.

  1. We were in Line's car, an aging yellow Mercedes sedan, big and steady, with slippery blond seats and a deep, strumming idle. Lincoln called it Dr. Diesel. It was a Sunday night, March 22, 1987, nine-thirty. Rural Ohio was a smooth continuity of silence and darkness, except for a faintly golden seam where land met sky ahead, promising light and people and sound just beyond the tree line.

    We were on our way back to Kenyon College after spring break. Linc, my best friend, was driving, his arm easy over the wheel. My boyfriend, Borden, sat behind him. I rode shotgun, a rose from Borden on my lap. Slung over my arm was a nineteen-forties taffeta ball gown I had bought for twenty dollars at a thrift shot. I was nineteen.

    The conversation had dropped off. I was making plans for the dress and for my coming junior year abroad at the University of Edinburgh. My eyes strayed along the right shoulder of the road: a while mailbox, the timid glint of an abandoned pickup's tail-light. The pavem...

The complete text of “A Sudden Illness” is not in the Byliner library, but we love it so much we included an excerpt and a link to the full story on www.newyorker.com.

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