by Kathleen J. Stowe
We hang our heads in the blister of an August sun. The summer behind us extends back to the horizon. Its desert lips, cracked and parched, too dry to bleed. Our greens fade to yellow, our rainbow hues to gray and brown. The earth that once massaged our weary toes is harsh and remorseless. Now only clods of dry grit and grumbling sand remain. Not an earthworm in sight to tunnel into the heart of the matter. Only the hope, fragile and futile, of September’s cruel storms lies ahead to quench the awful thirst. Hope mixed with destruction. What if the winds tear down sheltering branches? What if the waters rise to flood and rip away our toeholds? What if . . .? September is only a wish for others. Flats of pansies crouch on the deck, gazing out at us with naive and purpled smiles. We were once proudly coral-colored impatiens and canary-yellow zinnias, pure white begonias and scarlet geraniums. But all too soon, we are simply flowers of summer past.
The ocean rages. He pounds his fists. Remorseless. Ranting. Wrathful. His purpled eggplant face, engorged and sanguineous, transformed to the unpolished rough of forgotten pewter. He rages and rages against the settled sand. She sits at a dressing table in the powder of her disguise. Ivory makeup to hide the bruises on her high sweet cheekbones. But her arms are bare and the battering from previous battles is unabashed. Faded to the yellow-green of an avocado left out too long on the kitchen counter. Too long. Too long she’s waited on his rage. His unending justifications. Her tears wash away the loving mask and bleed out into the storm. Her salt mixes with his salt and the perilous theater stages one last performance.
Kathleen J. Stowe has been writing fiction for the past ten years with short stories published in Virginia Adversaria, Mslexia, and FUTURES. Last spring her short story "Monsieur Lapin" was published in Rosebud. Her poem "Summer" was published in a local newspaper last autumn. She previously worked as a registered nurse and is now a flight attendant. Kathleen lives in Norfolk, Virginia with her husband and two cats.