A Restaurant in Georgia
I see you at that little restaurant,
the one with the aqua and yellow and
red plates hanging on the walls. You’re shelling
peanuts, delicately removing
the redskins with your thumb and forefinger,
and then shedding the shells by flicking them
onto the floor beside your scuffed heels.
I want you to be sorry you would
not let me in to collect my dresses,
my plants, my unstrung guitar.
I want to tell you that your bra strap
is showing, that I would like to
crawl inside your skin.
You were standing in one of the freezer aisles. The glass door was pressed against your hip, and your two boys were sitting in the cart.
I liked the look of you in jeans and red sneakers. I liked the look of those boys with their chocolate-smudged cheeks.
You moved toward me like a stream, fluid and indirectly.
I stopped in the aisle, felt a metal cart glide into my heel, heard an apology.
Your eyes had the look of someone who had just been roused from sleep. And then your lips slid into a smile, very white teeth against buttery brown skin.
As we talked, I knew how it would be. Summer evenings watching fireflies on the porch with the boys. The smell of roasted pork in the air, and of ripe persimmons and damp clay. Easter Sundays would see the four of us in service together—me in a new yellow dress, you in the only suit you owned, the boys in pressed white shirts and dark trousers with straight lines down the middle. You came from the same places as me, the same bucolic fields where the air is ripe with manure. I could tell by the red dirt that crusted at the bottoms of your sneakers. I could tell by the sound of your voice.
You were content with life, the sort of man who could live forever in one place and never be too tempted by anything else. How was I to know you would be so unsophisticated, that you had never flown before or seen an ocean?
I remember the night I took you to the waters off the Carolina coast. It was full dark. There was no moon. We walked out to sea, side by side, feeling it ripple against our shins. We sucked in a collective breath as the water rose higher. You refused to go farther than knee-deep.
The sea was my gift to you. And yet, I wanted you to be the sort of man who had seen it already.
Monic Ductan lives in Georgia. Her writing has appeared in Crab Creek Review, Subtle Fiction, and several other journals. She works in social services and started an MFA program this fall.