Greg Gerke

In public with a few of his male friends Chet sees Lucy—once his girlfriend in another state in another decade. They grapple to make small talk. The main hindrance being Chet is now almost completely deaf after a strange nerve disorder cut away the working connections in his head. Still he can read her lips—there is no missed word.

Lucy's legs shake. After they broke up she prayed for an awful accident to befall 'Chet, the cheat,' as she called him. She even spent a week constructing a shabby voodoo doll with the wrong shade of Chet's brown hair. As she said recently to a therapist, "It was a time in my life when I was absolutely not sane."

When they part Lucy rises on her toes to kiss his forehead. "I wish you the best," she says.

Chet works the sounds of language from his throat like a weak man dragging a heavy table. "Would you have still been my girlfriend, you know, if I couldn't hear?"

"Why do you ask such stupid questions Chet?"

He tilts his head. "I don't know. I ask myself questions every day. Once in a while I want an answer."

Lucy looks at his friends, who seem ready to fight if she tries to hurt him. People who would have cursed him as an asshole all those years ago.

"Doesn't the past mean anything?" she whispers.

Chet smiles grandly, like he has just handed her a joyous, very human heart.

Greg Gerke currently lives in Buffalo. His work has appeared in Fourteen Hills, Pedestal Magazine, Pindeldyboz, Hobartpulp, Eyeshot, elimae, and others. He is completing a novel set in Brooklyn.

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Photo detail on main page courtesy of Elastic Camel.

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