Back to walking through rooms while our son sleeps through the nearly-midnight and the storms are gone and the neighbors have started their fighting again. She throws a shoe into a mirror, maybe it’s his shoe. He wants the money out of her hand. She sounds like twelve.
Under my blankets the lamp shines in, and it feels like morning on vacation, like sea grass and sand on the patio. I wish to peel back and see an unfamiliar view.
I remember how you hate birds singing in the morning, how it reminds you of being little and living in the bad apartments and the woman who busted down the door while your mother was on a date. She brought three women with her. You hid upstairs with your brother and listened to them shuffling papers and opening drawers. They were too drunk to notice the second storey.
Your mother was a lucky woman.
You said there were always crows in the mornings of those apartments, up with the first sun of the day picking through the parking lot pebbles.
Our son was up all the night before with his hands in his mouth. I sat on his bedroom floor and rocked him into my crossed legs until he fell asleep. In the morning his fever was still there.
You called from the hotel where you were living for the next few weeks. You told me not to tell you anything sad. So I told you how our son sings Brother John now, how he knows some of the French words. I told you I’m zipping through the crosswords on the train in the morning and how my new co-workers are all Libras and knitters. I didn’t say how it’s hard to breathe at night, how I eat too much and forget words all day long.
The neighbors are quiet now. I hear the hum of their box fans from my bedroom window. When I sleep the winds from the bay blow into our apartment. Everything is open to cool in the night. When you ask again, I won’t tell you how our son said he wanted you. How he said, “I miss him. I love him.”
Lydia Copeland's stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Quick Fiction, Glimmer Trian, Dogzplot, elimae, FRiGG and others. Her chapbook, Haircut Stories, is available from the Achilles Chapbook series, and as part of the chapbook collective, Fox Force 5 from Paper Hero Press. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and son.