Soft Red Morning
fiction by Susan Gibb

May 10, 2011

The morning light falls in wondrous disarray on the city. Like raindrops it splashes and bounces off roofs, rolls in streaks down window panes.

Jane lies in bed, watching the sun breaking into the room. It doesn’t belong here, she thinks. Night, eternal night is what lives here now.

Jane’s husband has left her. One evening out of a fifteen-year span of domestic content, he prepared his announcement. He crept through a dinner of veal scallopini and three glasses of wine, the last of which slurred into his declaration of wanting a “divorsh,” making her laugh before she understood that he meant it. He then revealed his intention to marry a twenty year-old waitress who served his breakfast every day at a diner and gave him free double orders of sausage. Jane was silent with shock, which he mistook for doubt and so he went on to reel off a list of women with whom he’d had flings over the years. Perhaps he thought it would prove his infidelity and thus his serious intent to leave. Perhaps he was drunk, or merely a complete ass. He slept in the guest room that night and moved out in a week.

Months later, Jane still wakes with a false sense of him lying beside her. Pretends every night that he’s there in the dark when the day has tired of pounding her with truth. Sometimes she hears him breathing, in and out, in and the long male breath out.

She rolls over but stops short of his side of the bed, where the sun has splayed its beams in wide stripes. Her hand slides in slow arcs, seeking, finding space instead. She closes her eyes.

“Don’t touch me,” she says to the sun. “Go back to the hell flame you rose from.” It pleases her to say this. She knows that it’s all she can do.

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