by Stephen Book
Janice listens to the soft whir of the cooling fan and faces the monitor — her eyes unfocused, her mind searching for a better place. It doesn’t matter where, really; any place could easily surpass the dumpy square of an office with its green shag carpeting, no windows, and circa 1960s wood paneling most likely salvaged from the failed funeral home on the edge of town. Another flutter brushes her insides (it finally started two days ago), and she turns her thoughts toward the corporate cubicle, the half-hour commutes along the Dan Ryan, and the vintage apartment, all of which sing their song, beckoning her back to the thriving shores of Chicago, the place she left behind when her husband hit the ceiling on his career and decided that home was a better place anyway. She can’t help but wonder if it was really as bad as Gary played it out. Couldn’t they have found a way? But there is no escaping life in the small town now — the home where Gary grew up; where, just down the county road, his brother proudly displays the trophy he won for eating sixty-three hotdogs and buns in twelve minutes; and where Lois, her widowed mother-in-law, quietly sews together a patchwork quilt of blue squares as if diligence, faith and action can force the providential hand of God.
Stephen Book, author of All That Remains, is a CPA, working in corporate America while carving out any time he can to build a writing career. He currently lives in Texas.