Leap Year

Andy drew a line in the dewy window with his pinky. A cascade of water bled out like a meaty cut.

“This is how far we’ve gone. In just one year.”

He swabbed another line, diverging down from the end of the first line.

“This is where we’re going. Where you’re going, anyway.”

Edie stares at the new line. Two lines. Two directions. Each on their own.

She reached up and scrubbed out the lines with her palm, creating a fan-shaped view of the emptiness just outside.

“We jump again," she said. "Together.”

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I have fifteen seconds to impact.

My brain and heart cook in unison to burn through options.


If I shoot, the child dies. If I don’t we crash.


The last time it felt like this, like a vice grip on my conscience, it was that flash job in Topeka that went pear.


I think about the kid. My kid. This kid. This one life.


What do I need to be around for anyway? What have I got left to deal with, to make better? To make worse?


But it’s not just me. It’s them. They’re asleep. They’ll die well. But they shouldn’t. They don’t have a choice. Nobody does.


My finger hugs the trigger. My shoulder hugs my ear.


The kid is crying. My kid is probably crying.


I hope they’re dreaming.


I hope I’m dreaming.

Five. It’s slowing down.


I’m hungry.


It’s Jane’s birthday tomorrow.




Out With Ed

“You left before I could.”

I nodded, even though she couldn’t see me.

“I was already gone,” I said. “Leaving was a formality.”

She was silent for longer than I could stand. My words echoed off the silence hovering between us across the ether.

“Where are you now?” she finally said.

“Not sure,” I said. It was true. I knew I was on the side of the road somewhere between Tacoma and Portland, though there were plenty of places in between where I could be. From my perspective I was at the end of the road.

“Put Ed back on the phone,” she said.

I looked up from the gravel, straining my eyes and neck to signal him. Ed shifted his foot from my between my shoulder blades.

“She wants you.”