What She Said

Here’s a bit of flash fiction, a scene of departure. Someone I love said the first sentence to me once, years ago, in a much different context. I wrote it in my notebook and in time it morphed into this small piece. An earlier version was previously posted in this space. I think it has improved. 

“You have no idea how much you’ll miss me. Just so you know, you really have no idea.” That’s what she said.

He knew she was right. She stood on the front porch, in the shadowed doorway. He was on the grass in bright sunlight, shielding his face with his hand. He was trying to see her eyes for the last time. Unbelievably blue.

He remembered everything, from the first time he saw her in the park with her dog, wearing a pale yellow sun dress, no shoes. When he spoke to her, she took off her dark glasses so he could see those eyes.

As long as he could remember, his life had gone in the just one direction. He’d heard it was possible to turn a life around, but his kept going the same way – mostly north, into colder country. But then that day in the park, they stopped to talk about dogs. It was like he clapped his hands and everything was new. No, it was like she spoke and he believed.

Now everything had changed again, though he knew she was right, and he had no one to blame but himself.

His pickup was parked at the curb, a battered old thing with faded green paint. It looked like a friend who saw that he’d screwed up again and didn’t care, who loved him anyway, who knew the roads where he might find hope, hot food, and a cheap place to sleep. As he passed in front of it, he felt the heat from the grill. Then finally she slammed the door.

Birds singing. Dogs barking. Maybe her dog, clawing its way up the back of her sofa to curse him through the picture window. A Cessna droned overhead, so he stood for a moment beside the truck to watch it go. As a boy, he liked to lie on his back on the grass and watch the planes. The sound of them could push him to the brink of sleep.

Merging onto the freeway, windows down, the engine growled and worked up through its gears. It drowned out every sound except the rush of air.

Sometimes, the right thing to do is right in front of you, but it’s impossible. The mind stands back and begs for time, and the heart defends its solitude. He hated what he did and said, and he understood that he would pay for it. Of course she was right, and this would be a long hard road to drive all night.

When he reached the coast and saw the sun going down in front of him, he had to bear right at the junction, heading north.

J. Kyle Kimberlin
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