by Jessica Lafortune
The pain was starting to feel normal. Waking up every day with it had that effect, and she was glad for the tolerance, the gradual numbing, except for the look on their faces — innocents, both of them. They bore the handprint, the slap of reality she suffered daily. “It’s not your fault, honey,” she would say, but it didn’t matter. They had grown accustomed to apologizing for nothing in particular, the melancholy, the day-to-day wishing to be anywhere-but-here, the wine that made Mommy’s patience come back, her sense of humor restored to what it was before - before responsibility, maternity, and living a life of duplicity took her to a place of nothingness - neither here nor there, spinning her wheels, afraid to shift into gear for fear of going in reverse. Neutral, as it turned out, was a silent killer — decidedly worse for her, hers, the whole lot of them — cursed by a decision to stay, a choice they would all question in the end, when hindsight made prophets and sages of them all, under the bloodied banner of One Big Happy.
Jessica Lafortune is a teacher, tutor, and freelance writer. She lives in Florida surrounded by humans and canines who (barely) tolerate her obsessive reading and writing habits.