Meredith by Zach Keali’i Murphy

Each night, Meredith places her husband’s blue terry cloth robe next to her in the bed. Before she turns off the dusty bedside lamp and drifts into her dreams, she drapes the robe’s fraying sleeve across her body, hoping to feel a faint embrace, if just for a second. When she wakes in the morning, sometimes she smells the aroma of dark roast coffee wafting into her bedroom. As she journeys downstairs, the steps creek like her bones. She looks into the kitchen and it’s always empty. Maybe the aroma has lingered in the tattered walls. The walls hold a lot of history. Or maybe the aroma has lingered in her head. Her head holds a lot of memories. She keeps the windows closed during the day, even when the temperatures are sultry. This makes it easier to feel a desperate breeze. The house is over a century old, so she knows it’s no stranger to drafts. At dinner, she swears she sees the tablecloth move every once in a while, especially on the nights when she cooks her husband’s most cherished meal of beef stroganoff, garlic potatoes, and red peppers. She knows that your eyes can play tricks on you, but she’d rather not blame her cataracts. After the sun sets, the same routine begins again. Moving forward is even harder when you want to be haunted by the past. As Meredith lies in bed, the moonlight shines through the cracked blinds, casting a glow upon the face of the clock on the wall. She stares at the clock’s second hand as it ticks, ticks, ticks. She takes a deep sigh and the hand stops.

ZACH KEALI’I MURPHY — Zach is a Hawaii-born writer with a background in cinema. His stories appear in Reed Magazine, Still Point Arts Quarterly, The Coachella Review, Maudlin House, Another Chicago Magazine, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, and more. He has published the chapbooks Tiny Universes (Selcouth Station Press) and If We Keep Moving (Ghost City Press). He lives with his wonderful wife, Kelly, in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Art by LINDSEY MORRISON GRANT — Self-identifying as a neurodivergent, two-spirit, elder storyteller and contrarian deeply rooted in the roar and lore that’s become Portlandia of the Left Coast, The Artist attributes success and survival to superlative supports, mindfulness practice, and daily creative expression in words, sounds, and images. Currently, their visual work is represented by The Siy Gallery of San Francisco.