Author's Note

What goes on in someone else’s mind? My interest in the motivations of others is probably why I became a writer. Strangers draw my attention when they do things I don’t comprehend. I try to put myself in their position, to intuit why they do what they do. There’s a story in everyone.

“Woman of the Week” sprang from no particular incident. I merely had a snippet, Thursday, to be exact, and I wondered: if you wanted to change your life, what would stop you from acting?

Claire Polders is a Dutch author of four novels. Her short prose in English has appeared or is forthcoming in Tin House (Flash Fidelity), Word Riot, Hobart, Folio, SmokeLong Quarterly, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, Litro (online), and elsewhere. Recently, she completed her first novel in English. She lives in Paris, but you may find her find her at @clairepolders or http://www.clairepolders.com.

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Next post: February 29

Woman of the Week

On Monday, under the weight of routine, she’s nothing but sloppy and dull-eyed, like the unhappy housewives you see pushing shopping carts in gray suburbs, even though she’s a postal clerk and unmarried and lives downtown.


On Tuesday, she sits down to dinner at a friend’s house, pretending to be a Van Gogh potato eater. She gnaws on stale crusts of bread and stabs her fork at the shared platter in front of her, stealing a chunk of lamb. She fills each stingy glass up to the brim with the rum she’s bought for the host and does so again and again until she feels jolly.


On Wednesday, she wears a drilled face, a face that won’t disclose any information unless the owner of the face wants the information to be disclosed. When she isn’t blinking and you look at her point blank, you might think she’s dead. At night, she watches the news and falls asleep with the television blaring.


On Thursday, she wakes up convinced she ought to run a clinic for disturbed adolescents or bury herself in a laboratory until she has isolated a protein that will burn off the stinger of a malarial mosquito like an ignited splinter. All day, she ruminates.


On Friday, after a fruit-only breakfast, she frees herself of the collected sadness so often seen in people who’ve been dissatisfied since puberty. When she emerges from her home, she looks like a full-souled woman, someone who has only recently abandoned her youth and can easily reach back to reinstall it whenever she wants. At the front desk, she winks and calls her favorite customers by their first names.


On Saturday, she can’t conceive of her own death. Fearless, she goes out into the city, looking for trouble and finding none. Her nonchalance is almost spiritual. Wherever she goes, she seems to be at a fabulous party brimming with talk and suspense, even if she only enters the glass doors of the retirement home to pay a visit to her senile mother.


On Sunday, by the lakeshore, her blue eyes are calm with medieval wisdom until dark clouds cluster at the horizon. Standing in the breeze, her long hair sailing, something starved drifts over her. If you ran into her at that moment, you’d see a hunger in her expression that would make you question how satisfied you actually were with your own time on Earth. She wonders: Does responsibility give life meaning?


On Monday, under the weight of routine, she’s nothing but sloppy and dull-eyed, like the unhappy housewives you see pushing shopping carts in gray suburbs, even though she’s a postal clerk and unmarried and lives downtown.


by Claire Polders