During the Games
I was out of work and my wife was at her sister’s–a trial separation. I’d been watching the Olympics, and didn’t like the way the planets were lining up. First the luge guy dies. Then the doll-like figure skater spins so fast her nose bleeds. And Boner dies, tears on Chekhov's face. It was all too much.
I hadn’t bothered shoveling. My little house was caked in, the willows drooping with ice, sad. Snowplows beeped and flashed out there.
In the city there was an Amber alert. Girl of eight, blond and smiling. Maybe taken by her stepbrother. But when I went to the basement for some more beer she was there, sitting against a stack of boxes my wife had packed. I recognized her face even with her hood yanked tight. Her eyes were closed, lids bluish. I thought she was dead, but then heard her breath whistle though the tiny, blood-crusted nose. She wore a suit of snow, packed like a mummy. Parts of her bled through and made a red slushy.
Later the state police said I shouldn’t have moved her, thawed her, given her chicken soup. I should have called them first. I just wanted to make a difference in the world, was what I told them.
It didn’t take long for my wife to call. She’d seen my face under lights and camera, tongue tied. “Look,” I told her. “They found the cellar door open, and her footprints. She came over the hill from the highway.” She sounded like she didn’t believe me. “Can’t you come home?” I said.
Later I walked to the bar. I was a celebrity. Shots came my way. “I’m ready for winter to end,” I said. I was on the big screen for a while, then someone flipped back to the games, fed up. There was more skating. The Korean girl spun and I spun with her, picking up speed. There was no stopping, and I felt my face, waiting.
Gary Moshimer works in a hospital and has stories in Word Riot, Smokelong Quarterly and other places.
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