By Caroline Muré
“I could walk the earth until it bled,” he told me.
“Don’t you think your feet would bleed first?” I responded as my hand got hot from standing too close to the gas stove, the French press brewing another two cups of coffee. The French press was a wedding gift from his parents, and when he opened it, his eyes widened and he grasped my hand tight. We got married in Aspen and the sky was on fire before it set. In our kitchen now, he shifts his weight from his left foot to his right, swallowing the last few sips of room temperature dark roast. I drink it black because he does, trying to hide the way the bitter taste makes my tongue curl. I tried my hardest to hide it though, my discomfort.
“I don’t think they would bleed,” he sighed. “But if they did, I don’t think I’d notice.” He put the mug in the sink.
“Don’t you want more?” I asked, feeling the stove get hotter. “Because I’m making more, as we speak.” He shook his head and without saying anything more, walked out of the kitchen. The sun was rising the way it normally did, like a chest slowly expanding with air. Though today it seemed faster, like he was back in the bedroom pumping it up and down and up and down. Because the faster it was up, the faster he could leave. Sun’s up, got to go. Perhaps I’d leave the new paper towel roll too close to the flame. Maybe I am suffering from a stroke, or at least I swear I am. I thought I shut the burner off; I don’t know how my hand got so burned. The lid wasn’t on all the way and the steaming coffee burned most of my skin. All these thoughts raced and raced and before I had chosen the winner I heard the door unlatch and shut, the sun melting the frozen ground, the mourning doves infuriating in their cries, trying to tell me they had it worse than me. Sometimes before he leaves, I hide his passport in the drawer of our night stand, or in the pocket of a coat he no longer wears. I’d like to think he doesn’t notice, but I am terrified that he does, and even more terrified if he chooses not to speak of it with me. I hear the garage door open and close; the sun is not awake enough to warrant no headlights. I look down to the kitchen sink that is cleared of dishes besides his empty coffee mug to see his wedding band still next to the dish soap. I should try to catch him before he gets out of the driveway, to let him know what he had forgotten. His hand probably looks so empty without it, but I doubt he notices the difference. My hip rests against the stove, and I feel it getting hotter as the coffee brews. I take the coffee off the gas and dump it down the sink as it steams. I stare at the flames still going on the stove. His truck is just getting to the end of our long, unpaved driveway. The sun is rising through the window in sheets of gold and it’s hard to tell the difference between them and fire.
Caroline Muré is a senior creative writing major from Holderness, New Hampshire, where she gets her inspiration to write about the outdoors.