2009 Friday Flash Anthology Selection: Exile

The wooden sill below the third floor window bears the scars made by his coffee cup. One ring joins another, each one etched into the peeling paint. The most visible appears alone at the window’s edge.

Each morning she awoke to find him there with his fresh-brewed coffee, his eye trained on something in the distance. He was illusive, a specter, a ghost made up of diesel smoke from city streets and dust from rural dirt roads.

He never learned to pronounce her name, even after months of knowing her and weeks of sharing her life. She suspected that the name he gave himself was fiction, a name created to avoid detection, connection to family in that place far away. In that faraway place, he taught at the university. Sociology, she thinks. When she met him, he worked at a gas station where he washed grease away from the concrete and scrubbed human waste from the bathroom porcelain fractured like bone.

She will always remember him as the moon. Lines, ridges, tiny craters marred his body. Her eyes feasted upon it only during those nights that white light illuminated the room. Her hands were always afraid of what their touch would find.

The window is now empty. He no longer works at the gas station, leaving behind a week’s worth of pay. He is not at the shore staring at boats going out to sea, a place she found him once before. The window now is empty both day and night.

She never expected him to stay forever. There is so much distance between the moon and where she plants her feet each day. Now, under crisp sheets, she sleeps alone. And each night, she waits to be bathed in moonbeams.