Gone

Flash
Melissa Reddish


puddle
Photo Credit: Gratiela Dumitrica

It didn’t start with blood. First there was an ache, smaller than hunger, that nestled just above bone. It flushed through my body like an embarrassed schoolgirl, then contracted to a point just above my pelvis. I remembered the charley horse I had gotten last Tuesday when I insisted on bringing in the groceries. Halfway to the door, I doubled over and shattered the Cabernet, my half-glass sliding down the sidewalk, irretrievable. I remember you rubbing my back through hiccupping gasps. You even tried to make a joke: “No use crying over spilt wine.” How could I explain that every loss scraped down to the center of me, past Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1, past the organic carrots and peas, past the vitamins big as horse pills, right into his pitter-patter heart? This pain was something else, though—a different kind of twisting. You were sleeping on the couch downstairs, afraid of waking me, even though I was the one who tossed from side to side, wanting nothing more than to sleep on my goddamned back for a change. The pain became pinpricks, became knives, became an army of chittering ants marching straight through me. I knew I should call out for you but I didn’t. If I moved, I would no longer be able to hold the night still—it would be lights and an ambulance and a man with a clipboard shaking his head. When I finally pulled back the sheets, I knew it had been too long since I felt his restless shuffling. The doctors say I should use his name—Timothy, my Olympian diver, my home-run hitter—but in that moment, there was only a brick-hard body swelling with absence and sheets the color of wine.

pencil

In 2008, Melissa Reddish graduated with an MFA from American University. Her work has appeared in decomP, Prick of the Spindle, and Northwind, among others. A chapbook of flash fiction is forthcoming from Red Bird Chapbooks. She is also the co-faculty editor of Echoes & Visions, the student literary publication of Wor-Wic Community College. Email: mspaster[at]gmail.com