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SmokeLong Quarterly

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Nothing I Say

Story by Peggy M. Price (Read author interview) March 15, 2005

A garment bag, two Samsonites and an olive duffle. Bobby’s shirts, pants and underwear on the pine floor and the bed and the vinyl chair in the corner with the dozy cat. Lots of beige and navy blue, his portable property tucked into flat bundles, red socks I’ve never seen. Bobby Goes to Washington.

Instead of sliding one rosy toenail up into the warm slope behind Bobby’s knee, I swivel with the calm of a quiet trooper, my rhythm paced with Bobby flopping shirts, slacks, and jeans into folds and stacking them according to some Bobby system. Flop, fold, stack. The oscillating fan catches on and we are a choir of the packing and leaving. My eyes are half open, easing into the departure without much flickering green.

Bobby’s slim shoulder blades wander around under his gray t-shirt. Wind from the fan flips at his hair. I want to live a whole day watching Bobby from behind. Watching the bold peaks of his elbows and the moist brown waves swing up at his collar. Out on the sidewalk of dark suits and leather satchels and white paper cups full of coffee, he might pause in front of a Radio Shack, the puff of hair that I love at his neck swallowed up in a tie, and offer directions to a hip-packed tourist, both hunched over one of those glossy city maps and Bobby waving his arm toward not this corner but the next, then right, the other hand barely in his pocket, his smooth palm directed at me. Ten months and two years together and this occurs to me now, this magnificent view of his back.

“Socks,” I say in my voice of personal theory, “bridge many a gap between could be and hell no.” Bobby stops mid-fold and puckers his lips. His eyelashes flutter but he doesn’t look over. “You’ve had better,” he says. Flashy smile, clothes spilling sideways, Bobby’s hands around my ankles and the chair crashes into the bed. A girly scream from me like the bed is a pool or a river of hot tar. Half in a suitcase, a buckle cold on my skin, I pull my legs up and Bobby leans into my knees and I think I can lift him with all my saved-up might. I push and push Bobby toward the ceiling but his weight is the same as always. Metal underneath tears at me a little and I am driven, I am young and mighty and red with all the blood my heart will send to my face. I struggle. I growl like I am pushing a dead car out of the driveway. I push like the devil, like it matters, like maybe today I can make something happen that we didn’t expect.

About the Author

Peggy M. Price studies writing at The University of Southern Mississippi, where she works as a librarian. Her work as appeared in Pindeldyboz, Opium Magazine, and Dicey Brown.

About the Artist

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison’s work here.

This story appeared in Issue Eight of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Eight
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