He’s a lion pacing behind bars. We watch him prowl and slither and lope through his cedar bedding. We squeeze him and risk bites. We spend our allowance on his Magic DustTM diet that looks like microbeads and smells like nail polish. Our devotion lasts a fiscal quarter.
Reason n./v. Weeks later I reason he isn’t worth losing my job or my friends or even the morning rituals that make me feel at home in my body. But his roots are under my skin.
Smooth and silent, the door closes behind me. The empty corridor; the sound softer and softer. Can I still hear it, or is it just a leftover in my ears?
All he’d been hearing was that Pittsburgh was the new Portland, the new Brooklyn; it was artsy, it was culinary, it was ripe because it was politically progressive and a hipster couple could still afford to buy property here. Byrne was unmoved.
Had she invited him on this trip? She dismissed the notion with a wave of her hand. She avoided Hae-won—Auntie had a vision of the young mother inviting herself over for dinner, the evening ending with the single mother crying on Auntie’s couch, spilling her troubles into the air, where they’d hang like the smell of rancid oil.
Bob remembers telling Laura about Joe over pizza years ago on their second date. “It’s not uncommon for only one twin to be miscarried,” he explained while pouring wine. “Its tissue sometimes melts back into the placenta.” A small stain bloomed over Laura’s upper lip, and Bob fought the urge to kiss her. “Sometimes its tissue melts into the mother’s body. I think Joe’s melted into mine,” he continued.
Laura smiled, the wine-stain spreading across her face. “I wondered about that dimple on your leg,” she teased, “I bet it belongs to Joe.”
Any phone call after midnight is a cause for nerves, but tonight I am alone, my husband on a fishing trip with our son. I answer the house phone with toothpaste on the corners of my mouth, snatching it from its stand on the bedside table. In the near second of silence while the line engages, I imagine catastrophe as it explodes like the red and white of fireworks inside my head.
“The only thing we know right now is what I told you on the phone,” he says. “When the police found your father, he was carrying that neighbor kid off down the road. Claimed he was saving him from a fire.” The doctor glances up. “But there wasn’t no fire anywhere.”