You are standing with the porch light behind you, casting a shadow on the steps. I can see you’re holding the letter. I left it out on the kitchen table in plain sight, and yet I’m still surprised you noticed it, let alone cared to read it.

“Who’s Jim?”

In your mouth, the words are not an accusation. Far from it. Your question is casual. Guileless. Genuinely curious. But not without weight. A perfect reflection of all that I love best about you.

I’m sitting on a folding chair in the front yard, smoking a stale Marlboro – one of the cigarettes I’d hidden away when we quit last year. I’m out here letting my tears dry naturally in the cool evening air. For the last forty-five minutes, and for the long month before that, “Who’s Jim?” had been my question. Now it was ours. It was my turn to speak, and though I had left Exhibit A on the table for you to find, and was prepared for an indictment should that be the way it went, I still did not know what to say for myself.

That night last month, right after it happened, I vowed to lock up the details. What did it have to do with us? It was something I did for myself. And besides, it all started out so innocently. A matter of thirst – the kind a pint of Guinness might quench.   […]

 

The story appeared in Hawaii Pacific Review, February 1, 2019. ◾ Read onlineRequest full textSee all stories