Drew Hetzel: Fidelity

Fall '10 TOC

            He goes to check the window again, and looks out onto the quiet street, but Kay’s not there. He knows the distinct sound of the brakes as the car stops at the corner. He is impelled to look again. He can’t help himself. Ever since arriving, he stays locked in her tiny home, awaiting her return.

            He knows Kay will not arrive until nine, but every twenty minutes he goes to the window. He tells himself that it’s just to see what’s going on out there, but he knows this longing is for her.

            Sometimes a noise like a singing bird stirs him from a nap and his first thought is always, “Her?” He can’t remember her name, but knows when he hears it. When she speaks his name his world is complete.

            He finally hears her car brakes squeaking and runs to the window in time to see her black and white VW slide past. In his excitement he knocks over a table that has a glass on it and it all crashes to the floor. He jumps aside, hitting her bicycle, which also falls over.

            She opens the door, expecting to see him, but he’s not waiting there as usual. She calls to him, “Eric?” but he doesn’t answer. She sees the mess and calls again, “Eric!” She hears a noise in the pantry and finds him pretending to be looking for something to eat, pretending he didn’t hear her enter.

            He can’t bring himself to speak to her and explain the accident before she pushes him back to the mess where he must sit in shame watching her clean up the pieces that he can’t pick up.

            After, her face softens—just this change brings him off the sofa to her feet where she caresses him in an act of forgiveness. He learns to create more little transgressions. Years later they are rarely needed. Their understanding of each other’s patterns and needs are better understood. His loyalty to her never lessens over time, but rather deepens.

            The regularity of the days creates a surrogate for his longing.

            At the end, she holds him. It is all she can do. They do not speak, nor need to as his breathing slows, and finally ebbs and then stops altogether, and she hears him sigh for the first time as he relaxes completely into her arms. Only now does she cry, ashamed to reveal her feelings in life—in death his value finds equality.

            She carries his body in a plastic laundry basket with handles, wrapped in the blanket that he had slept on. She buries him in the back yard, pushing the dirt back into the hole with her foot.

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Not Enough Night
Not Enough Night
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