Sep/Oct 2016 • Vol. XXXVIII No. 5 Nonfiction |

On Not Eating the Marshmallow

If I were a preacher—if I had a sermon—if I were a protester, a radical in the totalitarian regime of the self—if I were fearless enough to be jailed—or fearless enough to break out—if I were Aretha, or the organist on her gospel album, or her reverend father—if I had a voice like that—a voice with a dream, the kind of voice that screamed—then I’d scream you a song about— That sweet fluffy thing. That white, pearl-white thing. That cylindrical, softened at the edges, toasted-brown or burnt-black funny thing. That squishy, that melty, that swells-up-in-the-microwave-then-turns-to-dust thing. That corn-syrup thing. That gelatinous, horse’s-hooves thing. That thing on the plastic table, at the experimenter’s office, where one child’s parents are now getting paid— She is four years old. He is four and three quarters, or four and a half, or six, or five. The year is 1970, they live in Palo Alto, and they are—they are not—they are—NOT—

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Helen Betya Rubinstein’s essays have appeared in Seneca Review, Paris Review Daily, Witness, and the New York Times, and her fiction in the Collagist, Ninth Letter, and Salt Hill. She is the Dana Emerging Writer Fellow at Cornell College. “On Not Eating the Marshmallow” is from her current project investigating womanhood, hysteria, and self-control.

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If I were a preacher—if I had a sermon—if I were a protester, a radical in the totalitarian regime of the self—if I were fearless enough to be jailed—or fearless […]

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