Dirty Laundry (an excerpt)

Blue, blue, blue, there was always so much blue in his eyes that when he looked at me and I stared back, it was almost like looking up at the sky on a clear day. Not a cloud in sight. Groundless and soaring in open air. Floating over imagined neatly cropped rows of open corn fields, green pristine pastures patched together like one of Grammy’s thick knitted quilts, and stitched together by brown dusty roads that fell over the earth like a ball of yarn unraveled by an angry cat, and the cherubic faces of two small boys squinting up at me expectantly  and wondering if I am the mother that walked away after they were born. He held me captive like he always did, there on the wet spot in the midst of yellowed sheets faded from months, no years of being soiled, washed, dried in the hot Nebraska sun, and soiled again, permanently married to the fabric of our lives, clumped together between our legs, entwined and clinging to our turgid bodies.

“I love you,” I said, but wasn’t sure. It came out tumultuous and broken like a tit-mouse peeking out from under a pile of dirty laundry on the bathroom floor.

He didn’t acknowledge I had said anything but lay on top of me staring down. His breath near as broken and coming in gasps in my ear. …

“I haven’t earned it yet,” he said. “I still haven’t developed the back forty and the mare needs shined. Don’t know as I’ll ever be able to meet your expectations, Mary. I’m only one man.”

His words bit through me like barb-wire curling under my flesh and tearing away chunks of my heart as they drove out the other side. I wanted him off me and damn, i never wanted to look in his eyes again. That’s when it happened. Doc Morgan said he’d had a bad heart. Something he’d had since birth and just never knew it. 35 and dead. He lay there on top of me, pressing me into the bed, getting colder by the second.  I knew something was wrong as soon as he fell onto me with all of his weight sucking my remaining breath…



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