Monthly Junk Mailcoupons

Central Question: We’re obviously distracted, but what should we be paying attention to?

I never asked for it, but it comes anyway: a packet fat with coupons in my mailbox every month. I scan the coupons religiously, on the hunt not for bargains—I don’t think I’ve redeemed more than three coupons in my life—but for errors made by the printers. The best example is a coupon for a free trial membership to a swimming pool, on which is centered a clip-art image of a woman swimming, mouth open in an almost-panicked O while water churns around her. The colors are set all wrong: the water is red, the woman’s skin green. A zombie girl flailing in a pool of frothy blood.

In search of comparable silliness, I tear through the January coupons. Most are discounts on pizzas I do not want and offers for carpet cleaning I do not need. But midway through, what I see stops me. It’s not another zombie, though the woman at the bottom left corner does appear trapped in some kind of perpetual un-death. Skin sickly and bespectacled eyes sunken, she’s showing some teeth but not necessarily smiling. But what stops me is the block text spanning the page: will you ever stop suffering?

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

—Douglas W. Milliken

Douglas W. Milliken is the author of the book White Horses. He lives and works in Portland, Maine.

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