Marnie’s tender throat prevents speech. There’s no one to talk to anyway. She methodically loads her car. Bags filled with clothing, bedding, and pillows are stowed in the back of the station wagon. Every possession she has fits in this traveling box. Periodically, she rubs the side of her face against her shoulder. Remorse nibbles on her earlobes, makes them itch and burn.
She packs Robin’s car too, clears the trailer park of their occupation. She has declined all offers of help, claimed the sorting of Robin’s possessions as her penance.
Marnie crams the small car to the liner, barely leaving room for a driver to fit in the seat. Robin’s brother slouches off the number 33A bus and, wordlessly, she hands him the car keys. He climbs in, drives to the corner. She watches as he pokes his head around the front of the stacked assemblage, checks for oncoming traffic, turns right, then drives away.
I thought I would see you again.
The refrain loops in Marnie’s head as she trudges to the main office to turn in the keys to the trailer. The manager comments on her calm in the crisis. He doesn’t ask about the pills, the bourbon, the whispers of a smother bag. He doesn’t mention the ruined mattress. It leans against the front corner of the trailer, the indecisive stains transforming from burgundy to rust to black in the humid air. They both know she’ll never see the security deposit.
She treads back to her loaded car, opens the door and listens, one foot raised. A hornet climbs the nearby goldenrod. It inspects each yellow strand and buzzes with serious intent. Prairie sage and wood mint wave in the breeze. A whiff of sweet phlox floats behind.
Summer days, I thought would never end. There’s no changing what happened, no going back. The hinges groan as she pulls the car door closed. She shifts into drive. At the street, she pauses. Right leads to the land of labeled and weighed, known and measured. The sidewalks swept clean enough for a proverbial fried egg. She turns left.
'How Desolate Was Its Abandonment' was first published in Fictive Dream on 31 August 2018.
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