We’ve been here since April.

It’s a game of waiting and who moves first.

Those sandpaper sheets get more of you than I do.

While you were gone I learned to play piano. You didn’t think you were gone long enough for a person to learn an instrument. It took you years to understand the chords, to place your fingers.

I write on our calendar. Leave notes around the house. Brunch w/ Karen. David @ 8pm. Logan Sq. this wknd. Anything to keep from thinking of what I must give you and when you come home I hope you’ll notice all I’ve been up to.

What is it like when you arrive? Do you talk about the weather? Does she offer you a glass of water? Or do you just take off your clothes?

Three days in I stop pretending you exist. The bed stops being ours and out of your reach I let my feet hang over the edge. The pillow stops smelling of your sweat.

We used to leave the house at midnight with energy and a case of beer. Now I take this tiny pill, a nightcap and a warm blanket. Energy won’t come but neither does sleep. Stomach flips and a body suspended.

The night before we married I left you. I walked along the water and waited for the sun so I could call my sister to get my things. I changed my mind and you never said a thing. The next day was happy.

I pretend not to look when you unzip your fly and whip it out; casual, small, and limp in your left hand. A steady stream of too-yellow liquid shoots into the bowl. I’m a grower, not a shower, you said. I laugh too loud and you ask what’s funny.

Nothing. You never drank enough water.

I focus on the tiny black and white squares. 36 Across: Chills, so to speak.

Every time you pick up a guitar and finger your way through a three-chord song I think of her. Or my father.

We make light of these things but they devastate us.


August Midway

postapocalyptic Afterward


Brenna Kischuk is a writer and editor with a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she was also a Teaching Fellow. Currently she is the Editorial Director of The Angle Magazine and founder and editor of online literary journal, pioneertown . Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in NOÖ Journal, theNewerYork, HTMLGIANT, Matchbook Literary Magazine, Chicago Arts Journal, Used Furniture Review, and elsewhere. Find her online at brennakischuk.com.

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