Darlin' Neal

He sees her standing in front of her father's store. She bends to pick a bag up, her arm moves gracefully. He watches her look back at the road, over where his car idles. He thinks she sees him, for a moment that she will run to him, but her movement continues in a half circle as she turns and steps toward and through the glass doorway. Even as she's out of sight, he holds the image of her and hates her with all the force he'd ever felt in loving her. It will stay with him—the parting of her lips, the bending and reaching, the turning, the slender body and how you couldn't tell yet there was a baby, his first son, inside her. He will never speak to her again, except to promise as she asks him to never see his son, he will never see her again.

Years later when his other sons ask about her, whom he loved and married, he will only say, "She was a pretty woman."

Darlin' Neal is the author of Rattlesnakes & the Moon, a collection of stories (Press 53). Her second collection, Elegant Punk, will be out next year. She teaches at the University of Central Florida.

Photo on main page courtesy of Leo Reynolds.

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