Your face is the first to fade from memory; still your voice, a bow caressing the strings of a cello, holds me close. Your scent, evergreens dipping to the sea shore, calms me on days when I cannot locate your name. I am running in the woods that stretch across the hilltop behind our homes – skinny legs and brand new Keds, my ponytail sailing behind. Leaves crunch beneath my feet as woodland birds take flight in my path. Fingers of sunlight reach through branches heavy with pine cones that will one day decorate a mantel hung with stockings bearing chocolate, nuts and oranges, children’s names we will choose together, names that now reside only with you. I laugh and run ahead fast enough for you to give chase, but slow enough that you will always catch me. And you always have, caught me, taken my hand in yours and guided me home. But now I drift to where you cannot follow, where I am lost to even myself and the sun must bow to the rising moon. A nightingale sings at our window. At my bedside, the photo of a young couple in wedding attire, beautiful strangers. I had a beau who looked just like you once. Dance with me, you say.
Jayne Martin is a Pushcart, Best Small Fictions, and Best Microfictions nominee, and a recipient of Vestal Review’s VERA award. Her flash fiction collection, “Tender Cuts,” from Vine Leaves Press is available through all major online booksellers. She lives in Santa Barbara, California, where she rides horses and drinks copious amounts of fine wines, though not at the same time. Find her at www.jaynemartin-writer.com.
Steven John – senior fiction & special features editor