I wanted you to be delivered, hoisted up and kept safe. The sharp shells beckoned.
The night was supposed to blanket, warm, safe, instead of rocks. The birds drew up their wings and left. The last breath slipped. There are a hundred conversations we haven’t had, maybe a thousand. Maybe you know all this, maybe you are unreachable.
The snow in drifts swallows our legs, the smear of moon against black. I don’t need the stars to feel small. I don’t need for blue to have never existed to see it now, unspooling in swaths, the hills you roamed with me, berry-stained and thorn-pricked. We knew West. We knew the upended eggs of Solstice. You gave me the wisdom of the perfect crumb, the finest dice against the sharpest blade, the herb cultivated from thick red clay. You slid into my hand words like bread, like wine. Mule deer and meadowlark as we snaked through canyons. You gave me breath and light most of all.
You taught me to bend and serve people who expected less than air. You taught me to listen for nighthawk coo in its swoop. You showed me how a garden holds fast, how a horse’s mane twitches with your touch. We earned our scallop shells, the rose windows shone red and blue in your smoky eyes. You blinked against the incense so thick we could eat it.
Now birds perch above you, your name in stone. If you can, if that is how any of this works, you’ll watch them, name them, speak to them in lilt like air. “Good morning, now stop fussing.” And they will pause for you and sing in response.
Frances Badgett has been the fiction editor of Contrary Magazine since 2003. Her work has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, X-R-A-Y, Salamander, JMWW, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, 100 Word Story and elsewhere. She has been published in the JMWW Anthology, been on the Wigleaf 50 twice, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She lives in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, daughter, and two cats. She can be found on Twitter as francesbagett, Facebook as Frances Badgett, Instagram as FrancesBad. This is her first story with Bending Genres Journal.