Guilt Names
Ryan W. Bradley

Mom says to think of all the things that make me feel guilty, that tie my guts up in knots, and give each one a name. When the snow starts I sit at the front window and try to find a name for liking the way flakes dance in the air, how when the storms kick up all heavy, I can't see anything past the broken fence at the edge of our yard.

Sometimes Mom gets quiet and says she doesn't care that Dad left us. That we're better off anyhow.

There's no name for feeling she's wrong, so I just sit at the window watching the road and the windsock on our neighbor's fence, trying to guess when the next storm is going to kick up. When the whiteout of snowfall will blank out the whole neighborhood.

"There's always one on the horizon," Dad used to say.

My guess is the horizon is what he went looking for. Because nothing good ever came of watching the snow whether it's sitting there glinting in a moment of sunlight or blowing like a white tornado erasing everything past the window.

Ryan W. Bradley's new novel is CODE FOR FAILURE (Black Coffee Press). He lives in Oregon with his wife and two sons.

Read more of his work in the archive.

Detail of photo on main page courtesy of Clark Maxwell.

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