Shaun Turner writes in West Virginia, where he is the Assistant Fiction Editor for the Cheat River Review. His fiction can or will be found in the following great publications: Cleaver Magazine; Word Riot; JONATHAN; and A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, among others.
Dissolution of Care
Summer burns my corneas jasper, and your head blooms from the pool-water like a morning glory. It flowers slowly, then all at once. I wipe an errant stream from my forehead. You kiss me like you are in love.
In six months, we struggle in appeals. You inherited the way you sit from the grandmother that raised you. She would make you suck in your stomach to where the breath caught. Wipe your bangs across your forehead. Check the hands, folded neatly in your lap.
You stand in front of the judge. Your eyes are distant. Your tone firm. You list our inadequacies—our irreconcilable differences—and I remember the first time you loved me: Over dinner, our hands touch over a stiff piece of bread. We were twenty-seven and still beautiful.
You tell the judge about the silences. You tell him about no children. How I would often sleepwalk—once, down the street to Huddle House—and how you would wake up to grass—or, one time, blood—tucked into your inherited cotton sheets.
I have chosen to defend myself. And I will not deny the stains your wet hands sometimes left on my back or the time I found you cross-legged at the bottom of our swimming pool. How you coughed in deep swallows of air like you were a newborn, and I was the doctor and your first good spank.
I will say that done is done.
That, in this day and age is, the infant is rubbed down with a nubby towel. If required, light suction is applied to clear its airways, thus starting the first breath of life. In more modern times, I will say, more gentle ways are available and spanking is no longer common, or desired.