Decoys

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Decoys
On dull stretches during these anniversary trips, we’ve found it helps to point out places along the way, little things we pass together in the car: rest stops, Waffle Houses, personalized license plates. Graveyards, road kill, churches with services just letting out.

Once we saw a bride and groom emerge from the gloom of ceremony and into the sunlight holding hands, looking, for all the world, like they weren’t sure how they got there, or what they were doing, or whether their eyes would ever adjust. Remember how they squinted? Remember how we waved but they didn’t wave back, and we agreed that it was because they couldn’t see us, or that maybe they just didn’t want to let go of each other’s hands, they were holding so tight? I said, “Were we ever that young?” but maybe what I meant a little was “Were we ever that in love?” and you, you said, “No, not never,” but it wasn’t clear which question you weren’t answering.

We didn’t say another word for a long time after we passed the church that day, with those newlyweds like statuary hardening on the steps, but while I was driving and you were resting your eyes, I thought about them still. How they looked a little like us, not in the eyes, you see, but in the blindness. And, another time, maybe on that same trip – because it’s all the same trip, in a way, isn’t it, this marriage thing, these miles we just keep accumulating, trudging, trudging – I saw a new sign that had been erected, if you’ll recall, and I read it out-loud to you: “Decoy Museum: Five Miles Ahead.” It woke you from your sleep, the sound of my voice, or it woke you from pretending.

When you blinked your eyes opened, you said: “Well then, where’s the real museum?” and it took me a minute, but I got there. Before the five miles were up, I got there. I laughed at your joke about those little sitting ducks and it kept me going for a while longer. But still I wondered about the couple and if their eyes ever did adjust, and if they would ever see clearly again.


Photo by Eduardo Sánchez on Unsplash.

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About Author

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Alyson Mosquera Dutemple is a writer from New Jersey with an MFA from Warren Wilson College. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and for Best Small Fictions, and longlisted for Prism International’s Grouse Grind Lit Prize for V. Short Forms. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pithead Chapel, The Puritan, Flock, Little Patuxent Review, Construction, Pigeon Pages, and elsewhere. She is a fiction reader for CRAFT Literary. Find her at www.alysondutemple.com and on Twitter @swellspoken.

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