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by Tommy Dean

I stare out the window into the backyard, grass overgrown in clumps, patches fried to silt. I can’t take my eyes off the bird bath. I made a promise to get you the most decorative, filigreed one on the market as soon as things settled down.

But first there was the moving in, when the queen size bed, that was too new to replace and too old to be comfortable, refused to go up the narrow stairs. How I warned you to cover your eyes as me and my buddies bullied it past the corner, putting our first mark on the place by stripping the paint. I promised to fix that too.

Then there were the kids fighting over the rooms, while we rummaged through boxes, arguing over the scissors and the tape, and wondering where the plastic tub of alcohol was, so we could get through that first hazy summer day in this new town that had promised me a job, and you a chance to revisit loneliness while you tried to make friends, but everyone was too busy with the friendships they had built when they were in preschool. Tight-knit was how the realtor described the community, forgetting to tell us that the fabric would have to rip under the weight of our own selfish social needs before we could be let in.

Now that you’ve cut yourself back out, all I have left is this postcard view of a bird bath that slowly rusts as the rain and humidity assault its surfaces.

Why do I always refuse the warranty? I joked to the salesperson about needing one for my marriage. She didn’t find it funny and now I think I might have opened up a portal with my off-hand comment, because you’re gone. Maybe you could come back for the birds? I think they miss you.

Tommy Dean is the author of a flash fiction chapbook entitled Special Like the People on TV from Redbird Chapbooks. A graduate of the Queens University of Charlotte MFA program, he has been previously published in the Watershed Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, After the Pause, Boston Literary Magazine, Foliate Oak, and Spelk. Find him @TommyDeanWriter on Twitter.