“Places I Imagine My Wife”

Published in Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine 10.1 (April 2017) and nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Places I Imagine My Wife

The wooded hiking trails just outside of town, pushing Evan’s stroller beside Prince and Duchess and breathing deep the thawing air of the now-blooming mountains; the grocery store, choosing the least-wilted head of lettuce by picking up every single one; watching pedestrians through her classroom window between periods, her chin resting in her hand as the middle-schoolers noisily take their seats; 6th floor of the hospital, just once every few weeks for treatments that plenty of people live to laugh about; on her bright purple beach towel, sprawled with a drunk smirk like when we visited California our first Spring Break together, wearing the aviator sunglasses she found in that frothy water; smiling in her favorite dress—the blue one with little flowers printed on it—at our first-date restaurant, which was torn down just last year; our bed, in a wheezing sleep, her cheekbones more apparent and her hair thinner, the color greyed and mousey; the driver’s seat of that rusted Chevy pick-up she drove until Evan was born, wearing those same aviators, no longer a joke, as she leans one arm out the open window and squints against the sun; the back porch of our first apartment, a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other as she laughs her way through a joke while Prince and Duchess—puppies then—both look at her sideways; Evan’s nursery, watching him with sunken eyes as he naps despite Duchess’s constant low whine in Prince’s absence; everywhere, anywhere, until eventually, inevitably, her pale face against dark satin, that same blue dress and those dark eyelashes pulled together, her face fading behind endless flower arrangements and weepy relatives and refrigerated casseroles, waning from the bedroom and the nursery and the yard but also becoming more solid—somehow realer than before, the textures more vibrant, the colors truer than when we were together—on the golden beach, across the table at our restaurant, jogging the trails on the mountain with Prince at her side, while behind them dogwoods sprout pastel buds and bright wildflowers at their feet splash open in bloom.

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