Second Prize Winner
Annual McNally Robinson Booksellers Award
"Everything Belongs"
New Yorkers never cook. Their kitchens go unused because the city has everything they need. A New Yorker’s life revolves around being outside the home—out at bodegas buying aspirin, at bars clinking cocktails. Their apartments are smaller. The city is their home. And why wouldn’t it be?

Poppyseed bagel, American cheese, ham, egg scrambled soft, extra butter on both sides. After living here for coming up on a year, I know to order quickly. I know my eggs will likely be overcooked to my taste, but I try anyways. The process goes like this: get in line, don’t ask questions, know your order, and tip Ronaldo on the way out. That’s how you know you won’t be given the side eye for grabbing the extra napkins tucked beside the cash register. Also, don’t look at Leno if you see him.

An abrupt door closing behind me and I’m back inside every morning prior, in a rush to get my coffee and breakfast sandwich back to the office. In the first few months, the hard shut of the door slamming behind me felt like the city shut me out with it. I couldn’t tell the difference between a poorly maintained door hinge— rusty, tight on its retraction—and the feeling of unbelonging that comes with a city that, by necessity, insists on anonymity. My no-name face was unfitting amidst the other no-name faces. I hesitated when ordering a medium or large coffee. I asked too many questions. I was from Wisconsin.

Check out the full story in Prairie Fire's summer issue, out in July 2023!
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