The Apartment

The air outside smells cold and crisp and hurts her lungs in a way that makes her want to run forever. She can hear her heart in her footsteps and the sound of the world around her waking up and by the time she gets home, her side aches and her throat feels raw, like she has been sucking on something sharp.

The Museum

She imagines their claws and their footprints and their breath against her face. She imagines the way their voices must have bounced off the earth like thunder. She feels like if she listens hard enough she might hear their hearts still beating through their bones.

The Festival

When you move through the crowd, I pretend there is an invisible rope that tethers our two bodies together. I pretend that I would feel it if you were suddenly missing.

The Things She Knows

When he smiled, he looked into her eyes, and she wanted to grab his hand and kiss every one of his fingertips. Sometimes at night, she pretends that he is sitting next to her, holding her hand and stroking her knuckles, and asking how her day has been. She wakes up with his voice in her mouth, asking her what she would like to order.

The Family Vacation

At night, moths litter the windows and both her boys press their noses against the glass and tap their fingers against it. They watch as the moths scatter and regroup on the other side.

The Drive

Her headlights bounce across the trees and the slick pavement. She can imagine her car flipping and landing on the side of the road with her body pinned to the seat.

The Last Days of Summer

He grabs a wood chip from the flowerbed and chews on it until it splinters, and his mom makes him spit it out. His brother runs across the lawn, and they both watch the cars drive by. He loves the way the front yard feels like freedom.

The Splintering

She dreamt a man was outside her bedroom door and when she opened it his face was bathed in red light, waiting for her. She screamed and woke up with the sheets twisted around her legs, her husband snoring next to her.

The Things They Loved

They love the curve of the slides, and how the water pushes them down and out and sprays their faces and goes up their noses. They ask their dad to take them down the slides in his lap. They scoop up water in empty cups and throw it at their mom’s legs.

The Superheroes

When the younger one trips, the older one hugs him and kisses the top of his head and whispers soothing words into his ears. He helps him up and they throw their bodies against the headboard, leaving fresh dents in the blue paint.

The Woman Who Couldn't Breathe

He calls out for another hug, but she ignores him and throws herself on the couch, breathing in the quiet. She lays in front of the TV until her eyes hurt and her mouth feels dry. Then, she makes her way to her own bedroom, shimmying out of her jeans and slipping underneath the covers without removing her makeup or washing her face or brushing her teeth.

The Head Start

When she goes upstairs, the older one is waiting for her. There is yarn strewn about the room, knotted together with hangers that he has pulled out of his closet. He smiles and gathers his blankets and his trucks.

The Move

She never wanted to move here, begged for somewhere cooler, where seasons were well defined, and everyone owned thick winter coats and rubber boots to protect their feet from the snow. Here, it’s hot and humid and her hair curls at her temples. She can feel a sheen of sweat bead across the bridge of her nose as soon as she steps outside.

The Coffee Break

He is laughing, and his hair is blowing in the wind. Her fingers itch to tuck it behind his ears, but she is already in line, the taste of coffee across her tongue.

The Emptiness

They look blankly at her as she places her hands on their shoulders, both confused for a minute about how she is suddenly there. Then, the older one screams with anger, and the younger one copies him, and everyone around them looks towards her, alarm in their eyes.

The Renovations

The rain started as they walked back to the house. It was cold and hard and they were both soaked by the time they reached the gate. Inside, she turned off the window units and opened the windows to let the rain-cooled air in

The Hike

The climb is steady, and slowly the woods around them quiet as they move deeper into the trees. Her older one is a fast hiker and they move quickly, hopping over tree roots and giant rocks that have fallen onto the path.

The Observer

Now, however, it was summer, and the days stretched out before them like cross country track meets, each one ending with the three of them dripping in sweat and exhausted, hands on their knees and gulping for air.

The Road Trip

At two years old, their son hated his car seat, got restless after an hour or so buckled in. They had driven to the beach a month ago, a test run, they had called it. After forty-five minutes he had started kicking the back of her seat, pounding his fists against his armrests.

The Late Fee

The radio played songs from her childhood, beat out tunes as familiar to her as her own heartbeat, melodies that hummed through her bloodstream whenever she dared to listen. She was late, as usual. The alarm on her phone had gone off twice before she had complied and began gathering her things.