and we picked out faraway places on a map and I dropped out of college, and after he made beef stroganoff in my electric wok when I had the flu and he moved in unexpectedly the next weekend, and after the nurse said “Congratulations, you’re pregnant!” and I saw in her face that she saw in my face that she’d said the wrong thing, and after we moved up the date and he almost killed my kitten but I said he wouldn’t hurt me, and after that time that he left a bruise and the other time that he didn’t, and after we honeymooned at the Best Western without leaving town and I wouldn’t get in the hot tub but I did drink a beer, and after a healthy baby and a move to the country and the second baby was born in a twenty-year-old mobile home that a coat of yellow paint almost made look nice, and after we built a house that never quite got finished, and after we could never quite figure out how to build a life, and after I cheated and he checked out and he blamed our daughters for his distaste for parenting, and after I left the house barefoot and out of words and exhausted, and after I drove to a cemetery and sat against a cedar tree and watched the sun go down on a decade of trying, I said that’s enough.
Laurie Marshall is a writer and artist from Northwest Arkansas. Her words and art have appeared or are forthcoming in Twin Pies, Versification, Janus Literary, and Flash Frog, among others. She’s a reader for Fractured Literary. Her 100-word story placed 2nd in Retreat West’s February 2021 Monthly Micro Competition. She goes to movies for the popcorn and spends too much time on Twitter @LaurieMMarshall.