by Thaisa Frank
While you were sleeping the city began to recede from the continent and ice floes covered the airport. Since you never went out I began to wear your winter jacket. It was too big, with faded red canvas and ragged shearling and chewed pencils in the pockets. I wore it to meetings where we drank wine and wrote petitions to lash the land to shore. When I came home it was still light and I shook you awake in motes of sun. You didn’t understand what was happening, even as friends dropped off furniture because they were leaving. What are these fucking boots? What’s this stupid chair? When the convenience store saw you they set out boxes of cereal. It was the only time you went out.
At night windows in other apartments lit up like advent calendars and neighbors gathered to talk. Once a neighbor wanted to see you and I let her into our cramped bedroom. She said you had light around your head the way sleeping babies have light because they haven’t used all of it during the day.
One night you woke up and said you wanted to walk through the city. It was cold, the sky had spendthrift stars and a man in a sleeping bag said, “Get out of my way.” You said, “It’s our street too,” and I had to explain that now squatters owned squares of sidewalk. We went to the pier where innumerable tugboats were pulling the land to shore. Their lights made a garland and you kissed me against a pillar. “Everything’s going to be different now,” I said out loud, as though we’d been having a conversation. We came home and your sleep turned the whole house dusk.
At meetings there was a man with dark eyes and a friendly smile. We went from apartment to apartment, gathering signatures to lash the land. Through open doors we saw extra furniture and extra pets, even a baby python. One night we went back to his apartment and made love. The act of making love made me feel like a leaf, coming loose from a branch. The part that breaks loose is called the abscissa and the word abscissa kept fluttering in my brain. Our apartment began to be beautiful in ways I hadn’t noticed. The threadbare rug shimmered in the dusk. I found woven pillows and marble bookends in a closet. I kept a vigil for three weeks and then the man and I went to Nebraska where the sky is a great bell and the fields burst into sunrise. We built a house. We had two children. Even so, I hold you close. Even so, I write you in your winter jacket.
Thaisa Frank’s flash fiction has been included in New Microfiction (Norton 2018). Enchantment, a short story collection (Counterpoint Press, 2012), was selected for Best Books by the San Francisco Chronicle. Her novel, Heidegger’s Glasses (Counterpoint Press, 2010, 2011) was translated into 10 languages. www.thaisafrank.com