by Erin McKnight

They hold hands as they walk. Their fingers are interlaced, but not simply because she might slip on the icy sidewalk. The day’s indulgences dictate how many neighborhood houses they’ll watch light up; this evening’s penance is at least twenty, because they had cheeseburgers for lunch. Every step is a word, every street a sentence she hasn’t spoken. She’s waiting for a sign -- a cramping calf, an untied shoelace -- to force her to divulge her sin. Some night they’ll fall out of step and she’ll tell him about the other man, but tonight their stride is even, and she’s absolved.


Erin McKnight, author of Needlework, currently lives in Virginia, where she is at work on her MFA.