The First Heart Attack, or What Happens to Your Daughter When You Die for a Little While
There is no happiness found here. It was a dove darkened by honesty, by fear. Should you need happiness, find it elsewhere inside your mind. It is in this place where all things can be honorable and right. It is here where light turns outward.
While the skies moved over parts of the world unseen, my little girl sat on her bed. Here's what I imagined under the sky's clouds
I imagined her legs crossed. Her eyes downward. I imagined the air in her lungs as life and hope and hoped myself it would give her peace from inside in a way she couldn't find outside.
I imagined her best clothes worn to see me so I would know she wore what I bought for her, so I would be happy. I imagined her drawing smiles for me on large paper across the bed while the sun died in her window.
I imagined her hurting and with no one to tell. My imagination killed me first, then I died a draining gray death.
But she loved me, her stepmother. In that space made by trauma. Her frozen eyes loved me while her mouth twisted in red and purple, in an anguish not wholly defined. She loved me in this way with her eyes and her sad mouth, and when I told her I loved her and to tell the kids I loved them she said she would, and I like to think she did.
Sheldon Lee Compton is the author of the story collections, The Same Terrible Storm and Where Alligators Sleep, and the novella, Brown Bottle. His work has been widely published and anthologized. He edits Revolution John and is an associate editor of Night Train. He survives in Eastern Kentucky.