art by Cheryl Owen-Wilson
Die for You
by Alex Gorman
Joseph blinked open his eyes and groaned, stretching his arms out wide and running his hand over the rumbled sheets. He turned his head. His wife was gone, leaving only the impression where her body had lain the night before, a shadow of her curves in the old mattress.
In the other room, a pan rattled against the stovetop, followed by the muffled bang of a cupboard being closed. At least Talia still made an effort to quiet the noise. There was a time when she never rose before Joseph, when she would linger in bed until he was awake and welcome him into her arms. There was a time they would kiss and share their joy and their sleepy bodies with one another.
Now, Talia just told him, "No." Whenever Joseph came near her, whenever he touched her or even smiled at her with intent, "No."
They had all been changed by the attacks, by the loss, but most people had found a way to move on. Talia seemed to be trapped, somewhere deep inside of herself, afraid to feel anything at all. She had watched so many people die, her family, friends. And she had run, just like they had all run. Just like Joseph had run, the panic thick in his veins, when the shooting started. He had been standing beside Talia, looking up at strange shapes in the sky. They had been like children's blocks, shifting from blue to red to black, rimmed with a yellow light. And then he had run from the fire, and he'd had no idea where Talia was, or where he was going.