the afterthought format is an indefinite literary project by n. j. campbell

for a list of published writings, try:



afterthought — eight hundred and twelve

the smell of decay in fall

afterthought — eight hundred and eleven

deer in the park

afterthought — eight hundred and ten

the gray-green of the forest at dusk

afterthought — eight hundred and nine

the gold shimmer of the sun on the horizon

afterthought — eight hundred and eight

a muddy dirt road

afterthought — eight hundred and seven

fog on the river


This piece first appeared in TRN Literary Magazine.

By N. J. Campbell

I met Shannon on the bus coming back from Chicago. She sat in the back. I sat in the back. She was pretty and young, so I didn’t think about her. I introduced myself because people introduce themselves, and then they feel better sitting next to the stranger they don’t know.

“I’m John,” I said.

“I’m Shannon,” she said.

It went on a few sentences from there.

College. Liberal Arts. Nice smile.

I thought about how it was to be that young. I couldn’t remember being that young.

I politely excused myself from the conversation and retreated into my own world.

I watched the sun go down and fell asleep to the rocking of the cabin.

We stopped at a gas station where the driver announced we could find food. I couldn’t find food, but I got some mixed nuts and sat on the concrete in front of the convenience store.

It was calm. There was nothing harsh. I remember feeling like everything was going nowhere and that everything was fine in not going.

I got back on the bus.

She had a bag of chips and a good heart. She thought I hadn’t eaten much and offered me some food. She began to talk about things like kindness, honesty and the human heart.

I liked the human heart, in as much as it didn’t hurt me, which wasn’t much of the time, but I liked the time I spent listening to her voice.

She talked for a while.

I talked for a while.

The bus came in.

She asked if I had a ride home.

I said I had a ride home.

I had a ride, but I wished more than anything I didn’t.

afterthought — eight hundred and six

the softness of her skin

afterthought — eight hundred and five

the cold smell in fall

afterthought — eight hundred and four

standing water in the field

sleepy themes