By Epiphany Ferrell
1. She was a dog groomer and he had an Airedale terrier that bit everyone who attempted to pluck his coat as the dog breed standards suggest. She was able to turn shag to glamour. Her secret, she said, was feeding the dog a tuna melt before and during grooming. He loved her ingenuity. They shared a kiss over the stainless steel grooming table, they shared more than a kiss. Then he left for the supposed easy money of oil rig work in the Gulf, and she prepared for law school, a destination she absolutely had to enter child-free.
2. He sat in her section at Smiley Guys and she served him a few extra boneless wings whenever he’d come in because she knew money was a problem for him while he waited to pitch his invention to the GM executives. But it was when he got a taste of her made-from-scratch key lime pie that he declared his love for her and they planned to run away together. The unexpected and months-too-soon pregnancy brought clarity. He left town to pitch for a minor-minor league farm team, and she moved to a part of the world where she would hear no echo of him.
3. They were married, each to someone else. They made a single exception to fidelity.
4. They were married, each to someone else. They felt safe-ish together. And in one night of excesses – too much alcohol, too much moonlight, too much opportunity – they covered each other’s fears. The morning sun squeezed the moonlight out of the room, and came between them like daggers.
5. They were going to marry, years ago. He changed his mind. She didn’t want the souvenir.
6. They were married, each to someone else. No one had ever called her “honey.” No one had ever called him “darlin’.”
7. They didn’t ask each other the right questions.
8. They were married, each to someone else. Her husband was nearing the end of his battle with a long illness. She was soul-weary, sick of heart. He’d always thought there was more to her than she let on. He was right. It was a whirlwind. After the funeral, she fled upstate and never returned. He never stopped thinking about her. He did not attend her funeral, a decade later. He didn’t even know she had died.
Epiphany Ferrell has had a busy year, featuring a house fire, a bucking horse/broken bone, and a Pushcart nomination. Her stories appear recently in Pulp Literature, Slag Review, and New Flash Fiction Review. She is on staff at Mojave River Review and blogs intermittently at Ghost Parachute.
Art by Michelle Johnsen, art editor
Michelle Johnsen is a nature and portrait photographer in Lancaster, PA, as well as an amateur herbalist and naturalist. Her work has been featured by It’s Modern Art, Susquehanna Style magazine, Permaculture Activist magazine, EcoWatch.com, EarthFirst! Journal, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, and used as album art for Grandma Shake!, Anna & Elizabeth, and Liz Fulmer Music. Michelle’s photos have also been stolen by AP, weather.com, The Daily Mail, and Lancaster Newspapers. You can contact her at mjphoto717 [at] gmail.com.