Across The Wire

No Junk

By Leila Register

There’s a lot of pressure on this thing to be no junk. That’s why I called it No Junk. That’s how life works. You name something the ideal name and it just happens that way for you. I feel terrible. I feel in trouble. I keep saying the wrong thing to the wrong person. Keep messing up facts in public. Last night I was at a table with strangers. One man wore a suit. I told him he looked like the movie The Graduate. He said his mom recently died and then I felt bad about what I said about the suit. There we all were. His mom and the suit and The Graduate. I asked him questions about his life. He said he wants to write but can’t. I said what happens when you try. He said I just get stuck. Today was supposed to be scattered storms but I look up and see the tree in front of my window and above it the blue sky and below that some leaves that look more yellow than green because of how the sun works. I read a lot of things everyday. I don’t mean books. I mean the internet where people share their ideas and worldview and images and sounds and terrible events. I also read stories but I have trouble finishing those. Sometimes the stories are on a website that is so ugly and depressing. Sometimes the lines are arranged in a way that makes the whole thing feel cheap and bad. Sometimes the words are broken up by a square advertisement on the right side of the screen. Sometimes the square advertisement is flashing. Sometimes whoever made the website decided to get creative with fonts. Sometimes all of this is happening at once and it makes me sink into an awful sadness. It makes me ask why am I doing this. Sometimes I read a story and I get to sentence three or four or five and I have to stop because things aren’t moving in a way I like. It’s hard to describe what it means for things to move in a way I like. It’s easier to describe what I don’t like. I don’t like when someone in a story does something “exasperatedly.” I don’t like when someone in a story tucks their hair behind their ear or giggles or “smiles sheepishly.” I don’t like the phrase “nothing special, really.” I know these are things people say and do in life and in the world but when someone does them in a story or essay it sounds fake and embarrassing. What does sheepish mean? Why would someone smile that way? I can’t imagine it. I don’t like anything I can’t picture or imagine.


Leila Register is a designer based in New York. On her desk is a framed print of a speech bubble that says “As If I Wasn’t Embarrassed Enough.” Her writing has appeared in Hobart, Rejection Letters, and Maudlin House.