Her Parent's House by Rebecca Shepard

The year Adie and I broke up, I traveled a lot. I know how it sounds: she left me, so I left everything else, anything I could get my hands on long enough to drop. And it’s true, but as with most truths, it wasn’t just that. In the absence of life as I had planned it—as whole—I opted for fractions, for frayed ends.

Adie didn’t suit me, but I couldn’t get over the world she suited. She wore leather gloves and cashmere sweaters, and loved the taste of fennel and smoked shark meat. At least, that’s what I tell myself now: that she wasn’t ‘right’ for me. No one ever suits us, after they are gone. Anyways, I don’t want to talk about her, it’s not what I ever mean to do. You must understand; there are times in life when conversation always bends in one direction, towards one thought, one event, one desire. I find it almost hopeful, that we could be so infinitely entertained by one thing, even if it’s pain. But that’s another thought, a different story. Please, distract me. Stop me.

There was a white sky when I arrived in Coimbra, though it was a warm day, and rain seemed unlikely. Whenever it rained while I was in Portugal, I was afraid whole cities would disappear, as though their histories were already so fragile, so much the middle-child, that they would drain effortlessly into the sea they looked out upon.

The hostel I’d picked at random was run by a Dutch woman who had emigrated from a suburb of Rotterdam thirty years previously. The building had a deep blue door and staircases so narrow they barely fit one person. It reminded me of a Dutch girl in England I once spent a week with. The house her parent’s owned had a similar name to the hostel, or the exact one—I couldn’t remember. Her name was Rosa—still is, I suppose, though so complete was her brief foray into my life that she seems entirely relegated to the past tense—and her parents are friends of my parents from the year we spent in England when I was young. Because of out parent’s friendship, we gave each other looks at school, as though we shared a secret, but never spoke to one another. Rosa was a year below me, big-lipped and pretty. She wore clothes from the girls’ section, but had a rough, wild air about her. We had known each other for years, in that presumed closeness of teenagers whose parents stay in touch, meet for tea when they are in the same city, send Christmas cards. Sometimes the cards came with a family photo that I would find on the dining room table while eating breakfast. When I lived in England I had always sort-of fancied her, and looking at the photos I felt a kind of misplaced claim to her.

I came to England a month after Adie and I split up, as a kind of coup d’etat against the heart. England was a childhood home after all, and a part of my past that Adie had never touched. I was sure that the rolling hills, the familiar smells, and the dove calls beating like waves against the window would cauterize my wounds. On one of my long and rambling walks in the first couple days, I passed Rosa’s parent’s house and sent her a message, asking whether she happened to be around. We had met for drinks once or twice the summer before, when she was doing an internship in New York. Rosa told me she had queer tendencies—I phrase it like this because I don’t remember what exactly she said about her identity, only that she was in an open relationship with a transgender man, and that she was very curious to hear about my sexuality. We eyed each other in that outdoor Brooklyn bar, the soft, almost humorous pressure of sex between two young acquaintances who have just discovered they share a compatible sexuality wafting between us. But I was still with Adie at the time, and though I felt a small tug of interest, a small what if, like a bubble blown between us, Adie was my world, and I could no more imagine cheating on her than starting life all over again. It simply wouldn’t have made sense, not in the world I had built; not on those streets, in that weather, with those friends, thinking those thoughts, making those plans.

Besides, Rosa was also in a relationship, and soon heading off to Germany to an artists’ colony, to join her partner. That was why I was surprised to get a text back only moments later, telling me to meet her for a drink at the pub that night. We deliberated over which pub, and then settled on nine pm, which gave us an hour to drink our beers before the pub closed; a length of time that was long enough to merit leaving separately if the conversation was forced or the connection not there, but short enough to suggest that we might continue our conversation somewhere else, that she might invite me back to her house—her parent’s house. We were at the tender, confused age of considering our parent’s houses both our own and utterly relinquished at the same time. We were sexually active, but not in the hasty, embarrassed fumblings of teenagers, whose sexuality seems to suit a parent’s house—when it feels appropriate to rush through a silent hand job before dinner because you are too young and insecure to make noise anyways, to take your time, to know what you want or what to ask of your partner. Rosa and I were older now, not just twenty, but a few years into our twenties, and we had had sex enough to know what we liked, enough to be loud, enough to meet for drinks and then go home together—but the home we returned to was still a childhood one. We had both come back to childhood after a failed relationship, and though it was meant to be a place of healing, a place of regrowth, a launch-pad, it was odd to suggest sex—a common method of healing—into such a landscape.

It rained for the rest of the afternoon. I was staying at an old friend’s house, and she was at work, so I sat alone in her drawing room and drank tea and skimmed through a dense book on Greek and Roman love poetry I had brought along, and then gave up and looked through the piles of completed crossword puzzle magazines beside the armchair. I amused myself between the hours of four and five pm reading the answer in the puzzle and trying to work backwards, imagining what the clue could be. The light was dropping like the temperature at the seaside, when suddenly neither the water nor the air are that much colder, but coming out of the waves, the combination of the two is utterly different, and the skin is covered in goose-bumps, and the walk back to the hotel and a hot shower seems insurmountable.

All of our evening plans had been arranged quickly, around two, in the time it took me to walk from her house back to mine. I mused over what she was doing at that moment, whether she found the wait until evening just as long and depressing and pointless. I had always been a person of urgency; if we were to meet, why not this instant? If we were to fall in love, why not sooner rather than later? But as I had grown older—or grown up, some might argue—I had learned this was not the way everyone operated, I had attempted to curate a certain level of patience. We were waiting until the evening for a purpose, to adhere to a social order, to a tacit acknowledgment and agreement about the way things are, the way things ought to be. If I had simply turned in the street, knowing Rosa was within a stone’s throw away, and rapped sharply on her door, and if she had been in and not her parents and she had come to the door, and if she had let me in and taken me into the dining room for a cup of tea, and if we had abandoned the tea after only a few scalding sips and gone to her bedroom, the act would have been finished before the sun began to set, and this would ask a whole different category of questions of us, and we weren’t ready for those questions. We were heartbroken, after all. I suppose I shouldn’t have assumed she was heartbroken, I shouldn’t even have assumed that her relationship had ended and that was why she was home, but I just knew.

So I sat alone in my friend’s drawing room, filled with all sorts of presumptions, drinking tea and making up games, and thinking every now and then about Adie, and how she was replaceable, and how I was bigger than the relationship, bigger than her, because I was in England, and was going to meet a girl from grade school for a drink, a girl I had always sort-of fancied, and how this made me so adult, so much more than any one heartbreak. I was going to keep on living. I was living, in some approximation, though I still had to remind myself of that.

At some point I got up and fixed myself some dinner, leaving half a portion in the pan for my friend, whenever she got home. I wasn’t a good cook, and she was, so I was always torn between the rudeness of making nothing extra and knowing she wouldn’t refuse anything because of politeness. Around eight o’clock I took a quick shower, dressed appropriately for rain—though it had stopped for the moment—and walked down to the pub, using my phone as a flashlight.

I found her fiddling with her bike lock, bent over.

            “Rosa!” I exclaimed, thinking it best to sound excited and nonchalant.

            She straightened and turned, smiling. “I can’t get my bike lock to work,” she said, gesturing at it. She looked around. “Fuck it,” she said. “I’ll just leave it. Remind me to come out and check on it, will you?”

            “Okay,” I said.

            She stepped forward and gave me a hug, a brief, strong hug in which neither of us really let ourselves be held.

            We went up the few steps into the pub. It was almost empty. “What day is it?” I asked, looking at my watch, pointlessly. I had lost track of time since Adie and I split, every form of time.

            “Tuesday,” Rosa said.

            I thought that she must have already found work, if she knew the day of the week.

            “What do you want?” Rosa asked, stepping up to the bar. The woman behind the bar eyed us up, flashing a half-wary, half-bemused smile at my short hair, at Rosa’s oversized jumper.

            “Guinness,” I murmured.

            “One Guinness, one lager,” Rosa ordered steadily.

            “Half-pint or pint?” the woman asked.

            Rosa turned to me.

            “Pint,” I said, “but I can pay.” I rustled through my pockets, and withdrew a handful of heavy British coins.

            “I’ve got it,” Rosa said, already paying. I took the Guinness she lifted from the counter with one hand, the other still filled awkwardly with coins.

            “Shall we go to the back?” I offered, trying to regain some agency, trying to show that I, too, had once lived in this town, and knew that there was a back room in the pub. Rosa slurped the head off her beer and nodded. I led the way.

            Rosa had broken up with her partner, and came home for a little while before a job started in London in May. She had taken up hobbies—sewing, and she went to the dump every week to rescue broken bicycles, which she fixed up and sold or gave away. When I told her I was bad with time and with patience, she told me I needed a hobby. She was probably right, but the simplicity of the statement and the idea that what worked for her would necessarily work for me was off-putting. I didn’t want to believe my problems had a simple solution.

There wasn’t any overt sexual tension between us. We talked vaguely, in an intellectual, psychological way, about our opinions on sexuality and gender. And then it was ten, and the pub was closing, and we went out to find her bicycle was still there, though we had both forgotten to check on it, and we started walking in the same direction, because both of our houses were in the same direction, and when it came time to split paths, I just kept walking with her, citing something about how pretty the night was, or how nice it was to walk in the forest in the dark.

            We took the back entrance to her parent’s house, the white of her bike the closest thing to light, me stumbling after it through the brambles and the mud. We were silent, listening to the ticking of the wheels, the hold of wet soil on our soles. Once in her backyard, she paused, and turned to me. We made small talk a while longer, the pauses stretching further, the looks more meaningful, until I asked on a scale of one to ten how bad of an idea it would be to kiss her, and she didn’t answer exactly, but smiled and said it was a good idea, and after kissing for a moment, offered for me to come upstairs with her.

            The house was silent. We went into the kitchen first, where she poured herself a glass of water, and asked if I wanted anything.

            “No, I’m good,” I replied.

            She grinned around the rim of her glass. “I’ve never understood that response. It’s so American.”

            The blue light of the kitchen rung through me. Adie had always reproached me for that response. The coincidence was not that great. Both girls were European—that was the end of it. A commonplace phrase, a commonplace correction. But because I found myself in the kitchen of another girl—her parent’s kitchen—and because she was the first since Adie, and because I was thousands of miles away running up against the same critique, my fate felt sealed, and I was struck with a panic at the thought that my love was not so grand or infinite after all, not so subject to change; that I was not a prolific romantic, for whom affair would follow affair as sure as one sentence after another, but a one track record, a hamster not aware it was stuck in a wheel, a boomerang so loyal to its utility that it could not see its own dogged return.

            Rosa finished her glass of water and set it in the sink, then passed by me, leading me out into the hallway and up two sets of stairs to the third floor. In her bedroom she undressed and sat on the edge of her bed. I stood on the other side of the room, watching.

            “I’ve never had sex in this room,” Rosa said, looking at the walls, as though seeing them for the first time.

            “Where do your parent’s sleep?” I asked.

            “Gemma’s right beneath us,” she said sheepishly. “Erik is on the other side of the house.”

            I did not ask why she called her parents by name, or how long they had sleeping separately.

            “So,” she said, scooting back in the bed. “Try to be quiet, I guess?”

            I laughed lightly, the only appropriate response, then came and sat on the bed. We looked at one another. What on earth were we trying to excavate in the other, I wondered. I thought of Adie: where was she at that moment? Buying apples and oatmeal at a market in Williamsburg, sitting in a Laundromat? Would she feel my infidelity—though it was not unfaithful—would there be a severing of sorts?

I wish that I could believe she had, but I am sure now that she felt nothing, only the residual March cold around her, or the sound of a phone vibrating on the nightstand in the apartment above, or the childlike wail of an ambulance, far off. It was a moment like any other, not only for her but for me as well; the coming together of flesh, the muffled sounds, the tearing against one another, as though we were sandpaper trying to rub each other towards softness, allowing the animal sensations of the body while knowing that deeper still something discordant lingered, an otherness we were not quite ready for. I stood outside of my body, pleased at the story of it, pleased that I was the kind of person to be in that room, engaged in those acts, but aware that we were both far from release, far from peace.

            Rosa’s alarm went off around six am. She was working on a farm, sorting produce into boxes, making sure eggs weren’t broken before putting them in their cartons. She said the night before that she didn’t mind the work, that it was kind of meditative, but that her hands got so cold throughout the day she could barely stand it.

            “Why don’t you wear gloves?” I asked.

            “We can’t. We have to be able to actually feel things. That’s our job.”

            I smiled. If she saw me, I am sure she misunderstood. I wanted to say that taken out of context, what she had just said was a great line, a great thought, but that was the kind of thing Adie and I would have talked about—with her, everything was already somehow out of context. With Rosa, it was a truth, it was the shape of her life at that given moment.

            I got up with Rosa, though she said I could stay sleeping if I wanted. The thought of running into her parents—my parent’s friends—later, without her, was too much for me to swallow. The old wooden floorboards creaked beneath me as I stood up and slipped into my jeans, pulled my sweater over my head, and stuffed my bra into the pocket of my jacket. I gazed out the window while Rosa went to the bathroom. It was misty, and even through the glass I could feel the British succulence before or after rain—indistinguishable, twin states—in the very root of things, in the air and the soil, but also in the wood of the fences, the walls of houses, the engines of cars.

            Rosa came back. “Shall we?”

            I nodded and followed her out, patting my jacket pockets to make sure I had everything.

            “You can come back if you’ve left something,” Rosa said, somewhat erroneously. It was a posited dance. She was climbing down the stairs and I was watching the top of her head bounce as she moved.

            Rosa’s father was in the kitchen. He was surprised to see me, but not in a suspicious way.          

            “Sit down, sit down,” he offered, rushing around the table to pull out a chair I was already at. “Cup of tea?” he offered. “Biscuits? How’s your father?”

            We made small talk while Rosa prepared a sandwich for lunch. Sitting at the table, talking with her father, drinking a cup of tea, and watching her back, I began to feel a certain protectiveness over her, a pride. I am not a person of low self-regard, but there are moments after a woman has slept with me, when I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I know I shouldn’t say this, that as a lesbian I ought to be a feminist, and see the exchange of our bodies as so utterly mutual as to be symmetrical—but I don’t. I don’t desire symmetry. There are notions of right or wrong that do not cross with us over the threshold into sex, or into the story we tell ourselves about it afterwards.

            Anyways, while Rosa’s father talked, I started drifting off into recollections of the night before, into specific moments that felt elicit to the touch; the sly, gloved hand of memory groping back through the dark to what it already knows it wants to pick out, and what, by picking out too often, does not entirely lose shape, but changes texture, loses the sharp edges, like chalk cliffs through heavy storms, accreting with the superimposition of all its future interpretations.

            It started raining on my walk home. When I got back, my friend was in the kitchen cooking breakfast. “Do you want some?” she asked, not turning from the stove top. Her name was Amy and in what felt like a lifetime before but really was no more than the three or four years that divided us from adolescence, we had once been in love. Amy was beautiful, and kind, and had become almost a sister to me.

            “Yes, please,” I said.

            Amy went to the refrigerator and got out more bacon. I was taking off my jacket, shaking the rain out of my hair.

            “Do you want a bath?” she asked.

            “No, that’s alright,” I said. “Later.”

            Amy lit a match, turned the hob, and lit the burner beneath a small cast-iron pan. She sliced a thick chunk of butter from the butter plate on the counter. We listened to it melt and pop. She cracked an egg, and we listened to that pop, as well.

            “So,” she began, once we were finally seated in the drawing room with our egg and bacon sandwiches, our glasses of orange juice, our cups of tea. “Do you still want to go to Brighton today?”

            I laughed. She smiled mischievously, cutting a piece of her sandwich. She knew me well, knew that if I had something I wanted to say, I wouldn’t be able to hold it in.

            “Yes,” I agreed. “But I want a bath first.”

 

            Amy let me walk along the beach in Brighton by myself. I didn’t ask to be left alone, but she knew, and suggested she sit on the pier and wait for me. She even took a picture of me as I walked away, as though she knew I would want to look back on it someday and see my solitary sulking form, intentional and poetic against the sea and sky. It is strange that now, those moments, the immediate weeks after Adie and I broke up, seem longer ago than when we were together. The memory of Adie and I is long, blurred, and indistinct as its loss, but the smell of Rosa on my fingers was specific, a pinpoint moment. I decided then, by the sea, my back to Amy, that I would ask Rosa to go away for the weekend.

 

            “I’m glad I managed to convince you,” I said, when I met Rosa at the train station on Friday.

            “To be fair,” she said, hoisting her bag higher on her shoulders, “I didn’t take much convincing.”

            I fingered the packet of tobacco in my pocket. I never smoked in America, but I had always wanted to learn how to roll, and I figured the trip to England was the perfect time. But I didn’t know whether Rosa would mind, whether she would find my smoking attractive or a turn off. I was new to smoking, and half-wished I’d get addicted. I liked the idea of something about me being non-negotiable to a new lover.

            “Do you smoke?” I finally asked.

            “Not really,” Rosa answered. “No.” She glanced up at the billboard, announcing our train was delayed ten minutes. “Why? Do you?”

            “Not really, either. But I have tobacco. I want to learn.”

            She laughed. “Okay,” she said. “Me too. We can learn this weekend.”

            We walked to the bench by the bin, and I took out the tobacco and the rolling papers and the filters, and we both struggled, the tobacco falling like thin wisps of bark out of tissue paper. I couldn’t get it to roll tight enough. Rosa was having the same problem. When we both finished our first attempt, we compared their lopsided, loose forms and laughed. They barely lit, and then were impossible to smoke. My filter kept falling out.

            “Yours is rubbish,” Rosa cackled through the smoke.

            I pushed her with my shoulder. She was warm, or I felt warm touching her.

            We didn’t talk much on the train. Rosa took out an old ipod and gave me the left ear bud. She was patient with music, let one song fully end before playing another. When the train pulled into the station—I can’t remember the name; some small, south coast British town—we found a place to lock her bike up for the weekend, went to tesco to buy tea, potatoes, onion, beans, and yoghurt, and caught the bus that Rosa’s mother had instructed us to take to the small trailer park outside of the village. Rosa’s mother owned a mobile home that she went to every other weekend or so to work on her novel. Rosa had generously offered it as a weekend getaway option, when I first suggested the idea. “We’ve just got to be really careful,” Rosa said. We were no longer in a parent’s house, and yet we still were. We could have loud sex, we could smoke on the steps, we could cook for ourselves and feel as adult as we liked, but the decorations weren’t ours, the responsibility was aimed at another person rather than at the object directly; we needed to leave it as though we had never been there.

            Once we had dropped our bags in the bedroom, I suggested we go on a walk along the estuary. The map indicated that there was a small town about five kilometers west of us. It was three pm, an odd time to leave, but an odder time to stay, with nothing to do in the mobile home or in town. We didn’t know or want each other enough to get straight into bed.

            It was a warm day for March. The tide was out, and large birds circled over the estuary. At one point we stopped and I kissed her, but it seemed odd, forced. I told her about university and what I studied. She asked a few questions.

            “What happened in Germany?” I asked her, after we started walking again. The path was narrow, and we had to walk in single file, me in front.

            “I just didn’t have anything to do there. There wasn’t much going on. We were there for him. It got to us, made us bicker.”

            “Makes sense,” I said.

            A few minutes later she asked me the same question. “And Adie?” she said.

            “Kind of the same I guess,” I said. “Or, we figured what would happen to you would happen, so she left before it could.”

            We didn’t talk again until we got to the town. It was nearly five at this point, and the light was elongated, like the marking of a yellow pencil that a kid has drawn all the way across the page and onto the desk itself. We sat down in the pub and ordered drinks, and then Rosa looked out the window and said, “it’s a bad age.”

            “What do you mean?” I asked.

            She ran her index finger up and down a crack in the table. “Like, we can’t live one life, with someone else, I mean. But we can’t live two either. Two lives, in close proximity. We mistake that for one.”

            I took a sip of the Guinness. “But couldn’t we chose to? If it was really worth it?”

            “Worth what?” she asked, mirroring my sip.  

            I didn’t have an answer. Not anything I wanted to say, anyways. I went to the bathroom and stopped at the bar on the way back to ask the bartender if he had any cards. He brought us three decks mixed together. We played cards and drank beer until it grew dark out, and then one of the men in the pub offered to give us a lift back to our village.

            “There aren’t buses between here and there,” he said.

I don’t think either of us considered anything suspicious about the man. Or perhaps we felt so sure we had no choice that we refused to entertain the idea. He was slightly portly, with a nice jacket, and a fancy watch. He didn’t look like evil, but then, what does evil look like? The problem of inside and outside is not a new one; Plato lamented the inability for a person’s goodness to be evident in their physicality more than two thousand years ago. As I sat in the backseat, I wondered what Adie would look like, if her outside matched her inside.

            I watched the closeness of the narrow British lanes, felt the hedgerows encroaching upon me, holding me, suffocating me, liberating me. Rosa sat next to me, talking with the man. What was Adie thinking? Could she guess where I was? Did she know I was tipsy, in the car of a stranger, moving through the dark towards another woman’s body?

            I fucked Rosa all night. Our bodies were loud against one another, but we didn’t say a word. When we woke mid-morning, the small window was fogged over. Rosa was laying against me, her body solid, earthly. I imagined all Dutch women like that, and then stopped myself. She wasn’t Dutch any more than she was a woman, just as Adie wasn’t any more French than she was simply another human.

            I got up and put pants and sweatshirt on. The trailer was cold. We hadn’t been able to figure out how to turn the boiler on, and Rosa didn’t want to call her mother to ask late at night. The rest of the trailer was freezing. I boiled water for coffee and sat on the steps outside in the weak, watery sunlight, rolling a cigarette.

            Rosa came out a few minutes later, with two cups of coffee. I had forgotten the water.

            “Let’s walk out to the point today, shall we?” she suggested.

            I nodded. I was concentrated on rolling the cigarette. I passed her the bag of tobacco and she sat next to me, trying to roll one as well.

            The trailer park was empty. Or at least we didn’t see anyone. Either it was only for weekends away, or the working class lived there, and were up and out long before we woke. It struck me as painfully ironic—in the way that many truths can be—that the possibilities, so distant in implication, had the same likelihood of being true.

            It started raining just as we were nearing the point. Rosa was fifty meters ahead of me, and when the thunder clapped and the raindrops began, she paused for a second, without turning to look back at me, and then kept going. I was struck with the same sensation as I had felt over the years looking at the Christmas photos, and when I sat in the kitchen with her father, pleased to be watching her, to be under the illusion that in some way she was mine. It is a shameful pleasure while grieving, to feel you own someone. We walked separately in the rain to the final tip of the point, where Rosa stopped and waited for me. We stared out at the water, our hoods tightened around our faces.

            “Will you show me the Greek alphabet?” Rosa asked suddenly.

            I laughed. “Sure,” I said, and drew it, messily, with the tip of my shoe in the sand. She tried to repeat the letters after me. By the time we got to lambda, the beginning of the alphabet was starting to wash away. We walked back towards the village, Rosa holding my hand for a brief time, before we separated and walked in silence again.

            We figured out how to turn on the boiler, and gave the trailer time to heat up while we went to the corner shop for dinner provisions. When we got back it was dark out, and we drank cheap red wine and smoked poorly rolled cigarettes on the steps while the potatoes boiled, and then fried them with onions and dumped a curry sauce over them. The onions were burnt, and the potatoes had crumbled, but it was warm, and the sauce was spicy. We rifled through the dvds in the cabinet and chose one I had never seen which Rosa said I had to have seen. When the movie was over I fucked her again, this time on the couch. Raising myself from her, my fingers pumping inside of her, I caught a glimpse of her eyes rolling back, and I stopped, afraid something was wrong.

            “What?” she nearly shouted. “Don’t stop.”

            Only afterwards did I realize it was the only time we spoke in bed.  

            The next day we took the train home. We shared headphones to her ipod again, and watched the British fields roll by. I thought to myself, this is what adults do, isn’t it? Spend weekends away, fuck people they have vaguely known for years, knowing they are both thinking about someone else. We forgive this as adults. We understand that we cannot be everything to everyone, that there is one love that can never be completely wrung from our bones, that can never completely dry out, and that we cannot be that for everyone, that we should not even want it. I did not desire Rosa’s devotion, did not want her to miss me, did not wish to house myself inside of her. We were refugees in each other’s bodies, and we had agreed upon it without saying a word.

            Amy picked us up from the train station. We fit Rosa’s bike into the boot with the backseats down, and scrunched together in the passenger seat. I remembered all the times I had done this as a teenager, the car packed with our young, pulsing blood, our bodies so ready to be smashed together. It was no different now, except that I knew it, I knew the difference between those few years and now. Rosa’s body hadn’t travelled long distances to be smashed against mine. I had entered her without breaching her. We dropped her off in front of her parent’s house. She wheeled her bike around the back, as Amy pulled away.

            “Maybe she doesn’t even have keys to the front,” I murmured to myself.

            “What?” Amy asked.

            I didn’t answer. Amy turned on the radio. I watched the house grow smaller in the rear view mirror, watched the trees grow around it, blocking it from view. Smoke rose from somewhere in the trees. Maybe from her parent’s house. 


Rebecca Shepard is a writer and classicist from Boulder, Co. She has published fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and translations online and in various literary magazines, as well as co-authored Naked Came the Post-Post Modernist(Arcade Publishing, 2013), and published a personal poetry collection. More information and links to a writing blog focused on etymology can be found through her website, www.rebeccashepard.com