Rita Next Door by Valerie Fox

In the months after Ed, before my sister arrived with her psychic business start-up, I spent Sundays with Rita. Once I asked her what she missed about her late husband, Steve. A lot, such a good brain calculator for tipping and he had an operatic way of cooking me meatloaf and potatoes. Among other things, Steve was a grocer. I’m in the hot tub on the deck with ferns, making up lyrics about Rita to the tune of “Lovely Rita.” I won’t say we nearly made it, not exactly. Come on in, have a mimosa. I invented this drink, let’s give it a name.


Meg creates unforgettable characters (like Abby in Here, Where We Live) through voice and dialogue—I love that. I appreciate also how music inspires Meg’s work and is present in it. While writing “Rita Next Door,” I was reading her micros, especially those in Alligators at Night.


Valerie Fox is the author of The Glass Book, The Rorschach Factory, and Insomniatic. She’s published in Across the Margin, The Café Irreal, Cleaver, Juked, Ellipsis Zine, and other journals. Valerie has had stories included in the Best Small Fictions and Best Microfictions series.