The darkness was in early now, and she said she looked like a Holstein with her black and white jacket. Men walked by and smiled at me, not her.
Her jacket was playful and spotted and she was overweight so yes, I suppose she looked a bit bovine – but in a nice way. She spoke often of her double chin. I didn’t give a crap, we were friends. We always walked around the lake, every day toward evening we did, rain or shine.
I could smell Kahlua in the air, maybe just the holidays nearing.
A scribble of rain came down and skittered the walkway, pimpled the man-made lake – the mile loop around would soon be slick with silvery leaves from the young trees.
“Are you afraid of lightening? Or do you love it?” she asked.
She was jealous of me because I had a man. I never talked about him or about anything that had changed for the better. Secretly, my bed had become a home again. A place to live.
My man friend didn’t like her, said, “She sounds cruel, and anyone who hurts you is a redneck asshole.”
“No, you don’t know her,” I told him. I should not tell him anything about her, but I was starting to tell him everything about everything.
On our walk, she stopped right at the place where a huge oak had fallen. The huge roots, she said, had smelled just exactly like her husband. She said “I smelled him, just before they hauled it away .”
Her husband died in a car, and after that she had gotten heavy. But she was not a redneck. Yes she could be stupidly mean. A woman who had become a mottled thing. I thought about men, how many there were and how none of them would likely thrive with her, or keep her upright.
Night herons hunched like old men around the shallows. Usually I didn’t say anything, but I hoped to live in the water happy just like them, a driven love-hunting fool, gleaming in the wet.
Meg Pokrass is the author of Damn Sure Right, a debut collection of flash fiction stories from Press 53. Meg is Editor-at-Large for BLIP Magazine (formerly Mississippi Review) and curates the Fictionaut Five author interview series. Her work appears in Mississippi Review, Wigleaf, and Pedestal, Keyhole, among other journals. Her work has been nominated for Dzanc’s Best of the Web, the Pushcart Prize, and Wigleaf’s Top 50 Flash Stories. Meg lives in San Francisco with her daughter, Molly, and husband, Doug Bond.
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