The note is from before there was email. Back during high bangs and power ballads. She found it in a shoebox of her old things. It was the only note he ever wrote her. Yellowing and worn along the folds, she spreads it flat, running her finger over the words scribbled in pencil.
It says: I’m sorry, I can’t do this.
I should’ve told you earlier.
It’s the timing’s all. We’ve got our whole lives ahead of us.
At the doctor’s office years ago, she’d found the note in her purse. And that far along, she had to choose.
She chose him.
There’s a guy who can help us.
We’ll do this together.
She stands, strips off each layer of her clothes, and looks at herself in the full-length mirror. Grabs the skin over her hips, turns sideways. She raises her bangs and lets go, and they drop back across her forehead. Touching her cheek, she hums “Heaven” by Warrant, her eyes slicking over. Their song from a yellowed note away.
She palms her throat and swallows the way she did the second time he told her, “I’m sorry, I can’t do this.” The last time she saw him. A tear pearls at the bottom of her eye and slips down her face.
Still humming, she slides her hand over her heart, across the ridges of her chest. Runs her fingers between her breasts and along her ribcage. Traces the scar that runs down her stomach like a fossilized lizard tail, ending in a purple fleshy point. All the parts of her he just couldn’t do.
—First appeared in Conclave
Kevin Brown has won several fiction competitions and been nominated for Best American Short Stories. His work has appeared in Rosebud, New Delta Review, Underground Voices, NANO Fiction, among others.
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