Worksheet: Conditional Verbs

By Kim Magowan

IF my sister gave me a ride to the Stonestown Mall, THEN I would buy her a large cup of Pinkberry vanilla bean frozen yogurt, with the best toppings: boba balls, cubes of fresh mango.

IF Claire were not so obsessed with Johnny Waslewski, to the point that she doodles profiles of him on the paper tablecloth at Pauline’s Pizza, THEN she would be a better sister.

IF Claire had a sense of humor, THEN she would laugh when I said, “But you forgot to make his nose really beaky. And you forgot his mutton-chop sideburns.”

IF Claire did not have a totally selective memory, THEN she would recall that when our parents gave her the old Honda, part of the deal was she would occasionally drive me to places like the mall and not bitch about it.

IF Claire had a sense of humor, Take 2, THEN she would be amused when I said, “To the mall, Jeeves,” in an objectively good British accent.

IF Claire were a real environmentalist instead of merely selfish and lazy, THEN she would not just say, “It’s better for the environment for Josie to take the bus.”

IF she really believed that, THEN she would take the bus with me, and we could go to the mall together, and I could show her the place that sells feather earrings, and we could both get frozen yogurt at Pinkberry.

IF Claire were at all observant, THEN she would understand I don’t want a chauffeur so much as her damn company.

IF she were at all observant, Take 2, THEN she would realize that we haven’t had a real conversation in two months.

If she gave a merde volante, THEN she would see there are things I would like to ask her, like does anyone really enjoy hickeys or is everyone pretending for some obscure reason?

IF Claire noted everything above, THEN she would stop saying things like, “Look at Josie, rocking Diane Keaton in that blue turtleneck,” and, “It’s disgusting to wear the same shirt three days in a row.”

IF Claire hadn’t had her brain zapped like a hero in a science fiction movie, THEN she would remember that she and I used to be best friends. That we used to sleep in the same bed most nights, and only complained about our bedroom being too small to share for formality’s sake.

IF Claire weren’t so fixated on Dance Team and her large-nosed boyfriend, THEN she would remember that Mom and Dad always ask me what to get Claire for Christmas, because I know her best. The fact is, I still do.


Kim Magowan lives in San Francisco and teaches in the Department of Literatures and Languages at Mills College. Her short story collection Undoing won the 2017 Moon City Press Fiction Award and was published in March 2018. Her novel The Light Source is forthcoming from 7.13 Books in 2019. Her fiction has been published in Atticus Review, Bird’s Thumb, Cleaver, The Gettysburg Review, Hobart, New World Writing, Sixfold, and many other journals. She is Fiction Editor of Pithead Chapel.

Art by Lesley C. Weston (Copic ink with digital finish)

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