Fiction | August 18, 2021

Babette Has Gone Missing

Becky Mandelbaum


I wanted to be alone, to have a break from my life, so I applied to an artist residency in the Southwest. I wasn’t a writer, but had, during a series of bored Sunday afternoons while my husband and sons watched European soccer, strung together enough sentences that a story accidentally formed. The sentences were about a woman named Babette who couldn’t decide what to eat for lunch, so she began to eat her family, first their fingers, then their eyes. It was a disturbing, comedic tale of domestic life, or so wrote the judge who decided I was worthy of two months alone in New Mexico to produce more tales of Babette.

“You’re doing what?” asked my husband, John.

“An artist residency.”

“Since when are you an artist?”

“Since now, I guess.”

“What if I woke up one day and told you I was running away to be a circus clown?”

“I’d be happy for you.”

“Is that so?”


“Who’s going to take care of the children?”

“I suppose you could.”

He squinted at me. It was unusual for me to have something he didn’t. Or perhaps he knew I had applied in part to get away from him.


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