Linda’s home now sitting on her side of the bed—snow kept her at a friend’s apartment in town after her Saturday dinner shift. It’s like we’re on fucking trains speeding in opposite directions, sticking our heads out windows as we pass.
I peel back the covers for her to climb in as her shoes come off. Sunday’s our day. But she stands, faces the wall, and undresses as if her clothes are on fire.
“Jen says hi. They need me for Sunday brunch.” She heads into the bathroom.
The spot where she sat still feels warm. I smooth the sheet. Shower curtain rings slide. Water comes on, spray splashes, then pauses when she steps under the stream. Outside, I hear the escapades of our daredevil pilot.
I dress, make us coffee, and take a mug to the front steps. There’s snow on the grass, but our road’s been plowed and the sun’s working. The street gives me a better view of this guy. He flies a single-engine puddle jumper maybe a quarter mile north over empty fields on sunny, cloudless days, just above a line of tall spruce trees across the street from our walk-up. I stand in the street and watch as he revs the motor, climbs to a certain altitude, then throttles down, and spinning, drops out of sight behind the wall of green. A roar swells as he pulls up, and seconds later, he’s back in sight, wings wiggling. Before he flattens out and screams into another dive, I imagine what it’s like. To climb, the engine a continuous, swelling whine, and then spin down behind the spruce trees to pull up safely at the last moment, grinning, heart pounding.
Warm out of the shower, robe open at her throat, Linda leans out our bedroom window. She tosses me a shrug as if to inquire why I’m standing alone in the road holding a cup of coffee. I want to tell her I’m pulling up behind the spruce trees where Duncan didn’t overdose. Where we don’t have to slog two jobs each to live. Wait around for rebirth like the animals I load into the vet’s van and drive to the crematory.
Back inside I bring her coffee into the bedroom.
“Well? What were you doing out there?”
I remember sticking our heads out those windows. While she dresses for work, I swerve, dip, and digress. I talk about the roads, the snow melting as quickly as it fell, about the world at any other moment to bring us a small measure of peace.
MICK BENNETT — Mick is a retired English teacher/adjunct. His short fiction has appeared in Northwest Review, Confrontation, Flash Fiction Magazine, Literally Stories, Every Day Fiction, and Beloit Fiction Journal, among others. His novels explore life in his hometown of Belmar, New Jersey, and include The Belmar Series trilogy, Beat the Blues, and coming in 2023 from Unsolicited Press, Take the Lively Air. He lives in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania with wife Kathleen and Jovie, their golden retriever.
Art by NATHAN GOODROE — is a writer and artist living outside of Atlanta, GA. Links to previous publications can be found at nathangoodroe.com and tweets @TheGoodroe.