The first thought of the day isn’t the one to leave. You’re only thinking about the overflowing laundry, the leftovers in fridge and the groceries to be picked up, the trash you forgot to wheel out. On your way out you realize you’re in bathroom slippers and it’s -2°C, or that’s what you remember seeing on the weather app from yesterday—your kids still asleep in their bunk beds, drooling on their fairy-printed pillowcases, your ears fine-tuned to the frequency of the trash truck’s brakes squealing, getting closer to your driveway. You make it in time and exhale a white breath, tasting the sun in your mouth—blood rushing everywhere in your legs, your finger pads, but the sky is so goddamn blue—the shade you wanted for your living-room curtains but didn’t know what to call it, so you approximated it to cerulean on the color wheel. The trash truck turns at the end of the street and, still standing in your driveway as your calves turn crisp inside the cotton pj’s, you wonder if that approximation of the blue was true. You’re obsessed, as your husband might say, and you realize it’s not about the color, silly, it’s how you feel to be exact about something, anything—a feeling, a place, or this color. The way he kisses you without force or lust as if he’s afraid of a contagion, you don’t sense a spiral down you back on in the pit of your stomach that precedes an arousal. The way he presses your breasts—hard or not at all, you wonder if there’s a program which laid out feelings on a scale from one to ten—up to four decimal places for accuracy—and if that would confirm that you aren’t meant to be with each other. It’s that moment you think of leaving and making a mental list of stuff you’d like to take with you—not how they show in movies—clothes, jewelry accordioned in haste in a suitcase. You wheel the trash can back to the garage, eyeing the shelves of snow flat in your yard, your insides growing heat greedy. You raise the blinds in your kids’ bedroom, adjust their blankets, place your hands on their six- and four-year-old clutches of lungs, watching the bare walls you imagine a mural—a mermaid playing a piano, a circle of fairies in the sky, and Mom, what’s for breakfast, brings you back. You make their favorite pancakes with lots of maple syrup, whip the cream for his coffee. You’re smiling while you are serving, your eyebrows lifted in half-anxiety when that thought of leaving returns from the back door of your mind, blurry like gray static of rain leeching from sky as a confession unlike when your fingers shimmy between your legs, in the shower, your dizzy cry comes out not bloated in ego or shame but fully formed in a hunger beyond an owning.
Tara Isabel Zambrano is a writer of color and the author of Death, Desire And Other Destinations, a full-length flash collection by OKAY Donkey Press. Her work has won the first prize in The Southampton Review Short Short Fiction Contest 2019, a second prize in Bath Flash Award 2020, been a Finalist in Bat City Review 2018 Short Prose Contest and Mid-American Review Fineline 2018 Contest. Her flash fiction has been published in The Best Small Fictions 2019, The Best Micro Fiction 2019, 2020 Anthology. She lives in Texas and is the Fiction Editor for Waxwing Literary Journal.
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