A checkpoint rises out of the blackness. You stop. You wait. ‘Where are you going?’ the officer asks.
‘To see my husband,’ you lie, gripping the wheel. ‘It’s our anniversary.’
‘Just checking you’re alive,’ the officer chuckles.
A torch flashes through the empty space in the back of the truck, ‘OK then,’ he says, and you pull away. You’re trembling. It’s been months since the accident and without James you’re still trying to cope.
When you enter the store, you walk across the cork flooring and allow the soft piano music to soothe you. The fibreglass heads of svelte male models lean towards you, their kind eyes are alert and primed to offer support. You bite your lip and pass through the rows. This time you are going to buy all the sticky plasters, anti-venom and Bach Rescue Remedies that either of you will need. You’ll make sure that he keeps away from fast-moving rivers and dark twisting lanes.
A breeze passes through the store and silver wind chimes ring out. A chandelier rotates and sends rays falling across the diamond-studded tiles.
You are drawn to the back of the room where rejected models are stacked side by side. They have missing limbs, eye patches and track lines like footprints up their arms. You feel lightheaded and move towards a model with skin like his, he even has the same greenish bruising beneath his eyes. You stare at the model’s mouth and remember the smell of absinthe on James’ breath and you are blinking the thoughts back which are rushing towards you down a three-lane highway. You promise to stay close, to keep him for the long haul, to read stories together and take up the guitar.
‘And if we grow apart?’ you say.
There is silence.
You accept the contract from the assistant and sign your name, all the time ticking boxes and whispering. ‘I do.’
Katie Coleman has stories in or forthcoming from The Ilanot Review. Born in England, she now lives in Phuket, Thailand, with her husband and cats. Say hi on Twitter @anjuna2000.