My husband hides the newspaper on the morning of Jerry Banner’s execution, like suddenly it’s 1957 and the DuBois Courier-Express is my only source of information. “I’ll have to call and complain again,” Adam says, for verisimilitude. “Maybe get us a free week or something.” I stir a slick of creamer into my instant coffee and pretend I didn’t see him tucking the paper into the pocket of his gym bag. But I’ve pretended a lot of things, all this time. That Jerry hadn’t been writing me letters every week for the last ten years, hadn’t asked me to come today I don’t even know if I’ll see the people who come but it would sure be a comfort, he wrote, to smell that freesia smell of you again or even just to know you were there. Pretend that I didn’t write back, telling him I’d try, that before I put the slip of purple stationery into its matching envelope, I didn’t press it hard between my legs.
“I’ll try to get home early,” Adam adds, zipping his coat up over the embroidered green polo shirt. “Maybe we can go out for a nice dinner.”
I say nothing, just steel myself against the aftershave mushroom-cloud of his kiss.
I avoid the computer all day, the television too, thinking that I might feel different as soon as it happens. That I’ll know, that I’ll feel the lethal injection in my own veins somehow. But in the afternoon I catch the news on the TV at the coffee shop while I’m waiting for my chai, Jerry Banner was executed this morning at twelve-oh-one… I stare at the screen for a long time, my tea going cold on the counter in front of me, disbelieving that such a thing could happen in the night and let you still wake up, unchanged.
I walked past Jerry’s house every day of junior high. That was before I knew him, before I even knew Adam, but each morning at seven-thirty he’d be wheeling his bicycle down the long driveway as I shuffled by on the narrow shoulder of Thorn Point Road, ears in my headphones, eyes on the dirty toes of my worn-out Chuck Taylors. Jerry would have been thirty-five then, military-trim, always in the same navy blue jacket and khaki pants, a dirty nylon lunch bag dangling from his hand.
He wore nerdy glasses, his hair in a buzz cut that didn’t even try to conceal a thin, jagged scar along his temple, and there was something weird about the way he walked–stiff, and with short, quick steps like a woman in high heels–but his features were handsome, the sharp cheekbones and angular jaw. I was brown-haired and sullen and I ached with hopelessness, every step on the way to school taking me closer to seven hours of hell, the mean girls who knew I was the poorest kid in a poor town and tortured me for it, the teachers who knew I was too smart for that school but didn’t do anything to help. I carried fifty aspirins in a plastic bag in my backpack and at lunch I thought about going into the stairwell and swallowing all of them. The thought of it was reassuring, like riding in the bed of my mother’s boyfriend’s truck instead of up front with them, just knowing that the way out was wide open.
Jerry always nodded at me as we passed each other, and I nodded back. It became a ritual of sorts, proof that we both existed. I liked seeing him, liked the sly, crooked smile he gave me. Well, here we are, it seemed to say. It was the way adults looked at each other, with unspoken understanding. The highlight of my day was that nod. Then, towards the middle of eighth grade, my mother and I moved farther out of town because the rent was cheaper, and I didn’t walk on Thorn Point Road anymore.
The summer between sophomore and junior year, I got a job at the exterminators. Just in the office, doing paperwork, setting up estimates and calling customers who hadn’t paid their bills yet. I hated it, the embroidered polo shirt, the sad, un-air-conditioned office in a glorified trailer behind the owner’s house. While all the other girls my age worked ten hours a week at the pool, the tanning salon, the nice buffet restaurant by the movie theater, or didn’t work at all, I was full-time at the exterminator. “It’s a good job, Elizabeth,” my mother slurred, looking at me over the rim of her wine glass as I fiddled with my uniform shirt in the mirror. It was a boxy men’s shirt and I didn’t like how it clung to my breasts, how after I’d walked the three and a half miles to the office in the hot morning sun there was a triangle of sweat between them on the cheap green fabric, how the men who worked for Adam’s father let their eyes linger there too long before moving up to my face, then giving up. “So what if you don’t like the shirt,” she added. “You’re gettin’ nine dollars an hour to wear it.”
She was right. Those other jobs paid six, maybe seven. But I knew Microsoft Access, and I could answer the phone without the caller asking me to put a grown-up on the line. And actually, I’d lied to my mother: I was getting eleven dollars. I just wanted to make sure some of it stayed in my pocket. Adam’s father hired me on the spot the day I came in with the resume I printed at the public library, said he’d pay me off the books so neither of us had to worry about a work permit. Adam, whom I knew from around the hallways at our high school, looked embarrassed as we passed each other on the steps of the trailer in our matching polo shirts, but who knows who he was embarrassed for, himself or for me.
Sometimes, on the walk back home, a car pulled up next to me. Usually some guy my mother used to date, offering me a ride in a way that seemed like I’d be doing him the favor. But sometimes it was the girls from school, windows opening against a puff of pot smoke and barely-restrained laughter, stopping just to fuck with me. “I like your shirt,” Melody Rae Loomis said from the driver’s seat of her old Jeep, hardly able to get the four words out before dissolving into giggles.
“Yeah,” her friend Dena said. “It really brings out the shit brown of your hair.”
I just kept walking, as I always did. I knew my hair was shit brown. But I also knew that the minute I graduated, I was leaving this town and not ever coming back.
“Hey, cunt, don’t be rude, we’re talking to you,” Melody Rae said next.
I kept my eyes on my shoes. I could feel more gravel squeezing in through the holes in the soles.
“Don’t you want to be friends with us?”
The sun was hot on my shoulder blades under the polo shirt.
“Come on, you need all the friends you can get. Just get in the car and we’ll show you what it means to have friends.”
Once they drove straight at me so fast I had to jump out of the way, into a shallow, muddy ditch. Once they threw a half-empty can of grape soda out the window; it hit me in the thigh and cascaded hot sticky purple all down my bare leg. Once Melody Rae told Dena to grab the tail of my shirt as they coasted past, the momentum of it pulling me sideways and down to the asphalt. That was the only time I said anything, stomach turning at the blood beading up on my shin bone.
“What the fuck do you want from me?” I screamed.
Dena and Melody Rae exchanged a glance in the safety of their car. “What makes you think we’d want anything from a nothing like you?” Dena said. They sat there for another minute before peeling out in a cloud of dust.
The men who worked for Adam’s father were burly and crass, unshaven and often still reeking of beer in the mornings. They were the type you might expect to work at an exterminator, untroubled by the killing of little things. They catcalled and stared, grabbed and pinched. But Jerry was different. The first time he came into the office I had my back to the door, my eyes on the computer screen, and I heard him before I saw him. “Miss Ruby,” he said in a quiet voice, “good morning.”
“Morning, Jerry,” Ruby, the other office girl, said. She was twenty-one and her boyfriend dropped her off and picked her up before and after every shift. She sounded bored when she talked to Jerry, not the scared-flirty way her voice got when she talked to the other men. “Where you been all summer?”
“My brother died, up in Brockway. I had to take care of some things.”
“Aw, shit, I’m sorry, nobody told me. Real sorry. But you didn’t miss much, except we got a new girl. Hey, computer whiz, turn around and meet Jerry.”
I turned. Something fluttered in my chest when I saw him, and I couldn’t have said why. “Hi,” I said. “I’m Beth.”
“Good to meet you, Beth,” Jerry said. Then he gave me that nod, his eyes locked on mine.
“Jerry’s different,” Ruby said. “Real polite. Unlike the rest of the animals who work here.”
She didn’t say different like it was a compliment, though whatever she meant was undeniably true. Jerry almost smiled. When the phone rang and Ruby turned away to answer it, he stepped over to my desk. “You’re the girl from Thorn Point Road,” he whispered.
“Yes,” I whispered back, although it wasn’t a secret, or maybe it was.
I learned not to look when a car slowed down next to me, not even for a split second to see who it was. If you didn’t look, sometimes they’d just give up and keep driving. Looking up, that beat of eye contact, it was like the worst kind of challenge. Prove me right or prove me wrong. When Jerry pulled up and said my name though, that time, I looked.
It was drizzling a little, the walnut interior of his big old Buick getting dotted with rain. “You have a car now,” I said. Even though we worked together, I rarely saw him. Unlike the other men, who hung out in the office in order to avoid working, Jerry only came in twice a day, once in the morning to sign out his company truck, and once in the evening to return it. He nodded at me both times, but never spoke. Ruby told me the guys made fun of him, for the scar and the way he walked, that the story was he’d flipped a car years ago in the next county over and got weird and quiet after that. I didn’t think he was weird. I thought he was a gentleman. I burned with longing for him to look at me.
“It was my brother’s,” he said now. Behind his glasses, his eyes were green-grey. “Listen. It’s raining. Can I give you a ride?”
It was the thing they teach you never to do. Get into a car with a stranger. But Jerry didn’t seem like a stranger. “It’s pretty far, where I live,” I said.
I already knew I’d get in.
“I don’t mind,” Jerry said.
The inside of the car was clean and smelled faintly of pine. I had never ridden in a car as nice as that one, the plush seats free of crumbs, the vacuumed carpets clear of waxy fast food wrappers. The radio was on but turned down low, a staticky piano.
We rode the three miles in silence. The rain picked up, and the windshield wipers pulsed like a heartbeat. When Jerry pulled up to the squat brick house where I lived, I didn’t want to get out.
“You know,” he said, finally looking at me. “I used to wonder what happened to you.”
“I just moved, is all,” I said. But it thrilled me, knowing that he had thought about me.
“You seemed so sad.”
“And how are you now?”
Nobody ever asked me that before. “Still sad, I guess,” I said. It was before I learned that when someone asks you that, you don’t say the whole truth.
“Me too,” Jerry said. He never did learn that lesson, about the truth. He reached out and touched my pinkie finger on the armrest, then pulled away, a flush
creeping up his neck. “Sorry,” he muttered. “You just remind me of somebody.”
“It’s okay,” I said. I wanted to ask who, but I didn’t. I got out of the car and stood in the rain, watching him drive away. My pinkie felt hot and strange,
like I’d dipped it in candle wax.
I kept running into Jerry outside of work too. At Walmart, at the library, at the thrift store. “Christ,” my mother said, yanking on my sleeve to hurry me away from him and into the housewares aisle, “that freak is everywhere.” She picked up a old skillet, the nonstick coating gouged out like an eye.
I turned to watch him as he paid the cashier and left the store. Without his uniform jacket, I could see that his arms were muscular but cross-hatched with scars. In the parking lot, he unlocked the doors of the Buick and looked up at me, raising his hand in a wave.
In my room, later, I put on one of the records I bought at the thrift store and lay in my bed, sweating on top of the sheets as I slipped my hand into my underwear. In heat like that, it was the only way to get to sleep.
My sneakers were hopeless, the sole of one detached from the rest of the shoe and flapping like a flag. I was working hard, I thought, I could buy a pair of damn shoes, so I went into the icebox chill of the mall after work. But before I could make it into the Payless, I saw Melody Rae and Dena hanging out at the pretzel shop and, more importantly, they saw me too.
“They don’t take food stamps at the mall, stupid,” Melody Rae shouted down the corridor.
Her voice seemed to bounce off the black tiled floor and echo around me. I froze as they approached me, slurping on their sodas.
“Are you wearing make-up?” Melody Rae said when they got close. “Do you have a date?”
I brushed past but they followed me.
“Are you ignoring us?”
Melody Rae reached out and grabbed my wrist, but I shook her off. “Ouch,” she shouted. People were starting to stare. “This jealous bitch tried to break my arm!”
I ducked into the next open storefront, a low-ceilinged Valley Dairy restaurant full of bustling waitresses and old people eating meatloaf. I strode to the back, blinking away hot tears. I could hear Melody Rae and Dena laughing from the mall, but they didn’t follow me in. “We’ll just wait out here for you, friend,” Dena said.
I looked around for a bathroom to hide in until they got bored or until the mall closed, either one. But there was no bathroom in the restaurant. Desperate,
I tried to find an empty table, but then I heard my name in Jerry’s soft voice.
He was sitting in a booth by the windows, a cup of coffee and a newspaper in front of him. I collapsed into the seat across from him. I had never felt so relieved to see another person. “Can I sit with you for a minute?” I whispered. From the doorway to the restaurant, Melody Rae glared at us, shaking her head.
“Sure you can,” he whispered back.
I wiped at my eyes, smearing mascara on my palms.
“Are you hungry?” Jerry said next.
“No,” I said, even though I was.
Jerry nudged the menu towards me. “My treat,” he said. Then he winked at me, like he knew.
I ate a grilled cheese and watched him read the paper. “You don’t talk much, do you,” I said.
Jerry looked up. “I guess I don’t,” he said. “But then again, I don’t think you do either.”
The waitress stopped by with another Coke for me. She glanced between us with suspicion, like there was something questionable about two people in identical polo shirts eating together in a Valley Dairy.
“It’s nice to sit and be quiet with somebody,” I said when she was gone.
At that, Jerry smiled. It felt like a corkscrew twisting into the center of me. “I know what you mean,” he said.
But after that, we talked some. Jerry started driving me home from work every day, and that’s how I learned about him. He was thirty-nine, and twenty years ago he was in the Army, in Saudi Arabia, and he didn’t remember much about it anymore except sometimes he woke up craving this bottled Italian iced tea that all the markets there sold. He told me that after he was discharged, he came back to western Pennsylvania and was going to college to be a pharmacist, but then he had the accident. It wasn’t just him in the car, though. There was a girl, and her name was Lenore, and she was almost sixteen to his twenty-five, and she died. They were running away, he told me, running away to be together because Lenore’s daddy found out about them.
“I know what it sounds like,” Jerry said. “But it wasn’t like that. I loved her. She had an old soul. Some people do.”
Like you, he didn’t have to say.
He told me the accident fucked up his memory and he couldn’t go to school anymore. And he had to move because Lenore’s daddy still wanted to kill him, even though the accident was the fault of a drunk driver who got sentenced to a year in jail but was out after three months.
He told me that he took the job at the exterminator as a temporary thing while he figured out what to do with himself, but fifteen years later, he was still there. He told me that sometimes he was so lonely he couldn’t think straight. He told me that on the night of his brother’s funeral, he got a hand job from a hooker at a truck stop in Brockway and then cried the whole way home.
I told him about me, too. I told him that I tried to kill myself when I was fourteen, not with the aspirin but with a razor blade on the inside of my wrist.
I told him how my mother hissed at me in the hospital, “You want attention so bad, get a job as a stripper.” How she made me go back to school two days later because she wanted to go up to the casino in Salamanca but didn’t want to pay for a babysitter. I told him about Melody Rae, how she’d terrorized me since grade school, for being too poor, too tall, too smart, too ugly, too flat-chested and then, later, when I wasn’t flat-chested anymore, said I stuffed my bra with toilet paper and maxi pads. I told him how sometimes, even last year, I would make myself throw up at school so I could go home, and then I’d just go to the library, because I didn’t really want to go home either.
“You ever need to get out of someplace that bad again,” Jerry said, “you just call me and I’ll come get you.”
I believed him.
When the summer was over, I had eight hundred dollars in my sock drawer and I didn’t want to go back to school. For obvious reasons, but also because I
couldn’t imagine not getting paid for my time. It felt like I’d been a grown-up all summer and was getting sent backwards.
In chemistry class, I was assigned to be Adam’s lab partner. We hadn’t spoken all summer but now, without our green polo shirts, he no longer seemed embarrassed when he looked at me. “My dad said you did a real good job,” he said. “He told me to say you can have that job next summer if you want it.”
“Yeah, okay,” I said. “I can’t wait, man.”
Adam was skinny and shy, but he had dark eyes that flashed like lightning behind a mountain. All the eleventh grade girls would have killed to be his lab partner. “Are you as good at chemistry as you are at paperwork?” he said, nodding at the open book, a faint smile playing with the corner of his mouth.
“Even better,” I said.
Adam laughed out loud, the sound of it taking us both by surprise. “You’re all right, you know that?” he said. From the front row, Melody Rae Loomis turned around and shot me dead with her eyes.
The day Adam asked me to go to the homecoming dance with him, Melody Rae dropped a hot pie plate on my arm during home ec. The skin puffed up into a blister right in front of my eyes, like time-lapse photography. “Beth has arm herpes,” she told everyone.
“She’s just jealous,” Jerry said when I told him about it later on the phone. “Is it bad? Your arm.”
“It’s okay,” I said. “What about you?”
“I’m okay too.”
“No, I mean, are you jealous?” I was teasing, but I wanted him to say yes, just a little bit. Maybe more than a little bit.
Jerry was quiet for a while. “Beth,” he said, “the way I feel about you is above all this.”
That’s my favorite thing anyone ever said to me, before or since.
At the homecoming dance, Adam and I snuck out of the gymnasium and into an empty classroom and I unzipped his pants, put my pink-glossed mouth all over him while he shuddered and sighed. It was different than I expected. Wetter, and sweeter, like a cherry cordial gently bursting open on my tongue. He wouldn’t let us go any farther. Not yet, not yet, he whispered, like it was my name. Melody Rae danced with some tall kid from the Catholic high school, and she steered clear of me in a way that I mistook for a truce.
The second to last time I saw Jerry was at Adam’s birthday party. It was a Friday evening in October and there was a huge bonfire, a hayride through the woods behind the house, cups of cider laced with whiskey because Adam’s parents were the cool parents I’d rather you guys were drinking here than out somewhere else, his dad said, an argument that struck me as nonsense, but the night was cool and the cider was warm, and so was Adam’s hand laced in mine.
All the kids from school were there, and all the guys from the exterminators too. Jerry nursed a beer and hung back from the crowd, talking idly to people for a few minutes at a time but mostly alone. I was drunk by the time I went over and asked him to dance with me.
“Oh, Beth,” Jerry said sadly.
There was music playing, Lucinda Williams, and it was loud. But Jerry’s voice was low, like it always was.
“I can’t,” he said. “It wouldn’t look right.”
“You don’t have to worry about that,” I said. The world was spinning at a different rate than usual, and everything was twinkly. “You’re in the company of friends here.”
Jerry took my hand but let it go just as fast. “Beth,” he said. “You’re the only friend I have. I don’t want to do anything to change that.”
I felt myself about to cry. “One dance would change that?”
“I don’t know what one dance would do,” Jerry said. In the darkness, the sharp lines of his face almost seemed haunted. “I hope you understand what I’m saying.”
Of course I understood. I felt a jab of meanness in my chest. “I used to touch myself, thinking about you,” I whispered.
He closed his eyes, a soft sound escaping his throat. “Please don’t do this,” he said. “You can dance with Adam.”
“Adam is an idiot,” I said. I didn’t mean to say it, although it was true. “You’re the one that I want.” I skimmed my palm across the front of his jeans.
Jerry jerked away from me. “I’m going to go home now,” he said. “I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?”
As he walked stiffly away from me, I felt Adam embrace me from behind. “What was that old weirdo saying to you?” he said.
“Nothing,” I said. “Adam, take me upstairs.”
From the corner of the house, I saw Melody Rae look coldly, curiously, from me to Jerry, and I could almost see the wheels turning in her brain.
Adam and I were asleep in his bedroom when the commotion started. First a ringing phone, then a hushed conversation, then a louder one. Then the lights went on in the hallway, and there was shouting downstairs. “What’s going on,” I mumbled. My head was off balance, like an uneven scale. My bra was twisted around my shoulder but my jeans were still zipped.
“I’ll go find out,” Adam whispered.
The light from the hallway cracked into my head so I buried it under a pillow. A minute or three hours could have passed before he came back.
“Beth, oh my God,” he whispered. “Melody Rae Loomis’s father is here. He’s saying that Jerry Banner raped her tonight. Here.”
I stared at him, his face divided in half by a strip of light through the nearly-closed door. “No,” I said. “No.” My stomach turned inside out and I threw up on the carpet.
Melody Rae didn’t come to school that week at all. Someone said she had a black eye. Someone said he tied her up and shoved a shotgun barrel into her.
Someone said she was six weeks pregnant already. The rumors and lies made me nauseous all over again. I couldn’t listen to it and spent most of the school day pumping quarters into the payphone in the lobby, calling Jerry’s house. But he wasn’t home. He was locked up at the police station.
I tried to tell Adam that this was my fault. That this was about me, about Melody Rae almost running out of ways to fuck with me after eleven years, almost, but not quite.
“You think she made it up?” he said, only understanding half of what I was saying. Mr. Loomis wanted to press charges against Adam’s father too, for having alcohol at the party, for letting it happen.
When I heard that Jerry had been released on bail, I left school in the middle of the day and ran all the way to his house. It was Wednesday, raw and rainy. Thorn Point Road was flooded in places, a grey slick of muddy water that came up to my knees. I trudged through it, my ruined sneakers so heavy I finally took them off and went the last half mile in bare feet, a squish of mud and worms beneath my toes.
Jerry didn’t want me to come inside. In all the time we spent together, I’d never once been in his house. “Beth, you can’t be here,” he said. His voice was strained, his green-grey eyes wild. He had a cut on the bridge of his nose, and he wasn’t wearing his glasses.
“I need to talk to you,” I begged.
He leaned against his scarred forearm in the doorway for a long time. But finally he let me in.
The house was neat, neat and clean like his car, but as soon as I was inside, I felt a chill. There were guns everywhere, handguns, rifles. Knives, too, big ones.
“The army,” he said, as if that explained anything, though it didn’t.
But I didn’t have time to worry about the guns. “Melody Rae is doing this because of me,” I said. “She saw us, that night, and she–”
“Beth, I’m going to confess,” Jerry said, and all the air went out of my lungs.
“But you didn’t do anything.”
He was quiet, pacing back and forth. He was daring me to ask him if he had hurt her, but I would not do it.
“I’m not right, in my head,” he said. “In my heart. I can’t be around you–I can’t be around anyone, Beth, please, you need to leave.”
Even though I thought I understood, I didn’t. “Why can’t you be around me?”
He opened the door and pointed out into the rain. “You need to go. You’re just a kid,” he whispered.
“No,” I said. “No. I’m sixteen. I’ll be seventeen in four months.”
“What about what you said? About old souls?”
The sound of the rain filled the house. “If you ever cared about me,” Jerry said. “You’ll just leave.”
“You don’t really want that.”
“It doesn’t matter anymore, what I want.”
“We can go away,” I heard myself saying. I was pawing at him, clutching the fabric of his shirt. “I have some money, at home in my sock drawer. We could get
so far that no one–”
“Hush,” Jerry said. He reached out and brushed his thumb across my mouth, his eyes smoldering in the half-light of his living room. He took both of my wrists in one hand. Then he pushed me hard against the wall, his lips smearing against mine like he was trying to erase them. The corkscrew twisted up through me, my knees going weak. But as soon as it started, he backed off, moved further into the darkness of the house, wiping at his mouth as if my spit was the memory.
“You need to go,” he said, stern.
“Jerry, it’s okay,” I whispered. “I want you to. I love you.”
He resumed his pacing, but now he seemed angry. “You have no idea what love is, Beth.”
But I couldn’t stop. “We can beat this,” I said. “I can tell them about Melody Rae and what she does to me. Then they’ll see. They’ll have to. My whole life has been hell because of her. You can’t just give in.”
“I belong in jail,” he said.
“No, you don’t. You’re a good person–”
“Get the fuck out of my house,” Jerry snarled. He grabbed me by the elbow and pushed me out onto the porch. The door slammed behind me.
It took me over two hours to walk home, shoeless and forlorn. As I walked, Jerry was writing me a letter, which he would place in the mail to me that night when he left the house.
Nothing is your fault. There are things about me that I never wanted you to see, but I suppose that’s foolish because you know me better than anyone. You probably saw all along. Every time we passed each other on the road back then, you saw. And you didn’t look away. You are unbearably lovely, my sweet girl. But protecting you is more important than anything that I want. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me but even if you can’t, know that I will love you forever after.
After he mailed it, he went and had two beers at the Hitching Post. He was on a security camera, I heard, sitting quietly at the end of the bar until a pack of drunk construction workers came over to him and tried to start something with him, but Jerry pulled a knife and they backed off. When he left, he drove to the Loomis house, hand still firmly wrapped around the handle of that knife, and he murdered everyone inside.
Adam brings flowers home for me, a bouquet of daisies in a green cellophane sleeve. “I saw these and I thought of you,” he says, leaning in for a kiss. The aftershave smell has faded, and he just smells like sweat now. The smell of hard work, I remind myself.
“They’re beautiful,” I say.
I hate them. When we go out to dinner, I leave the flowers thirsty on the kitchen counter.
We sit in silence at the restaurant, Adam shoveling sourdough into his mouth while I stare at the sharp edge of my steak knife and imagine drawing it across my bare thigh, politely bleeding to death under the table.
How long would it take?
How long until he’d notice?
“These rolls are delicious,” he says, gumming bread out of his teeth. “Try one.”
I pierce my steak with the tip of the knife, feel it giving way in a hot spurt of grease. Adam smiles dumbly at me. There is nothing resembling lightning behind a mountain in those eyes now. I smile back and take a bite and try not to gag at the salty nothing taste.
Forever, that’s how long.
Photo by Jean Slo