I tell her, let me just breathe for a minute. But all she says is what? Always what, what, what. I say it again, but it feels pointless. I can breathe without asking. But the pain feels physical – like its in my chest – spreading down my arms and into my lungs. I bend over to help it. She says, what is wrong with you? She acts like it’s nothing. Like the time she quit her job without any reason. Said 8 a.m. was too early. And now she says she’s late. Says the test is on the counter – do I want to look. But I don’t. I can’t. Doesn’t she remember all the blood last time? The ER. The panic in her face at the word surgery? We aren’t even married – but why do I suddenly care about that now. I’ll just tell you, you big baby. No no, I can look, I say. Her eyes are staring hard at me, blue green like how sometimes the sky can be in early spring. I stand up tall and look out our kitchen window. It’s evening. Purples and blues up above and green, green trees everywhere. It’s a good yard. I keep it nice. I take another moment to watch the birds outside. Then I turn back to her and look at the stick on the counter.
Ashton Russells’ work has appeared or is forthcoming from the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, X-R-A-Y Lit Mag, New Flash Fiction Review, and Southeast Review among others. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama.