Horo-Flash; Taurus: Patricia Bidar

Bull and Trout

My wife Maya and I agree on all the big issues. Recycling. Food. Films. Politics, local and global. I don’t touch her neck. She doesn’t muss my thinning hair. Maya’s a Taurus. Inside of her dwells a bull, slow breathing and warm. I am Pisces, the fish.

We’re castoffs, you see. Her ex, Leon, works as a gardener in our complex. Mine? Well, the short answer is that my ex, my only, is Maya.

I unwrap the packaging, pull the plastic wand from its box. I tuck one chestnut curl behind Maya’s ear. She shuts the bathroom door behind her.  

Our remarkable marriage depends on a singular betrayal never coming to light. My vasectomy, last year.  I’ve seen others in our set after breeding. Left bloated and dazed and bitter. I have witnessed those husbands and wives at the zoo, like business partners splitting distasteful tasks. I’ve seen the resentful looks. Heard them keeping score.

Hence, the betrayal. A year back, I visited Dr. Zellner, three towns over. Then I was done. 

Men’s voices drift from the side yard. Leon and a helper, come to haul away the mountain of  branches from our side yard. Their radio emits a tinny, bouncy tune. We’ve lost our favorite tree, an ornamental plum. The victim of a blight from inside. Its branches used to fill our front window so prettily, like a painting. Where Maya always sat with her book when Leon came each Wednesday to blow and water. I get it. He’s kept in shape.

“A new vista,” I hear Leon pronounce from outside.

The bathroom doorway widens and Maya emerges. “It’s not happening,” she says. I drop to my knees and press my cheek to her womb. I feel my beloved breathe, picture steam rising in a meadow. The steadfast bull dips a curly head to the flickering trout.

“It’s a whole new vista,” I tell her. It really is bright without that tree. Maya stares out the window. Leon and his helper are lifting themselves into the truck.

When Maya and I were in grade school, we were inseparable. Same height; same haircut. Every day, we split our lunch down the middle. Two apple halves. Two triangles of PBJ.

I have a memory: us hugging each other tight on the blacktop. If we could only lift each other at the same moment, she’d said excitedly. Then we’d be airborne. Untouchable.

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Patricia Q. Bidar hails from the Port of Los Angeles region; she currently lives with her husband in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is an alum of the UC Davis Graduate Writers Program and a former fiction editor at Northwest Review. Patricia’s stories have appeared, or are forthcoming in Little Patuxent Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, Sou’wester, Wigleaf, Jellyfish Review, and Pithead Chapel. She is a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee and three-time Best Small Fictions 2020 nominee. Apart from fiction, Patricia ghostwrites for social service and other nonprofit organizations. She tweets at @patriciabidar.  

Steven John – Special Features & Fiction Editor