A short story sponsored by $10 bottle of malbec

“I forgot to tell you I bit my cheek.” It was just after 3 a.m. and he was in a deep sleep before his cell phone woke him up, vibrating on the hotel night stand and louder than an air raid siren. “Wait, what? Is something wrong? You know it’s the middle of the night, right?” he replied, sleepy and terse. “Yeah, I know but I forgot to tell you earlier and it really hurt. I was walking to my car after work and I was chewing gum and you always say I can’t do both at once and sure enough, CHOMP, and you were right. So, you’re right.” He sat silently for a moment, as long a moment as she would allow, before he said anything. They both knew she didn’t call to tell him about her cheek or gum. “I know you can’t verbalize any real feelings but if this is your attempt to tell me that you love me, then I don’t need it,” he said bitingly as he rubbed his hand through his hair. “I went out on a limb telling you, a fucking redwood, and you tell me you bit your cheek? So sorry, sweetheart. ” He could hear her faint sniffles on the other end of the line. She never cried and now he was worried. A faint flicker of an apology crept across his lips but she couldn’t hear him. She put the phone in the pocket of her hoodie and stepped up on the ledge. As she put her arms out to the side and closed her eyes, she could feel the warm spring breeze through her hair and across her face and felt at peace for the first time in a long time. She smiled as she took a step forward and felt her stomach drop as she fell forward, like the first hill on a rollercoaster. As she lay on her back in her mother’s gladiolus she gazed up at the ledge of the porch she stepped off, where she sat so many nights and talked on the phone as a teenager, drank stolen beers with her brothers and smoked pilfered cigarettes with her girlfriends and realized that so many of her favorite moments in her life happened right there and she couldn’t wait to add this to the library. As she shook the dirt out of her hair and stood up, she could hear him calling her name on the line. Her phone was still connected. “Oh sorry, I was in the gladiolus. I love you too,” she said, succinctly but honestly.   There was a fraction of a delay before he responded “I love you too. You’re fucking crazy.”

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A short story sponsored by $10 bottle of malbec

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