Then he made his way upstairs, to the roof. Surface crunching, its skin lay tacky at his shoes. A scant pebble crust in its dark tar. And everywhere, the milky starch of birds. He moved to the edge, looked out past the clumping downtown to the sea. Sky gaped, narrowing. The bag of money pushed lewdly at his thigh. In the later stages of planning he recalled deliberating about that part, the bag. What kind, size? What would not seem strange? She chose a gym bag; the building offered employees a health club on floor three. Look busy, she told him. Look strong. He thought of dying right then, bones rearranged. Heart slapping at his blood like a desperate palm.

 

She waited for him below, parked in the open, on the street. This was the idea. To wait a while, then run. She walked to an ice cream shop, chose a window chair, watched the sidewalk. Flakes of mint swirled dissolving on her tongue. Her blood was cool. She did try not to think of later, the smoothing of jangled things, soft hands at his back. The praise, the breath. He’d be a raw nerve now, disjointing. He’d need reminding of his courage, and, now, their grace. She tried to take the sun in through her skin.

 

In the heated months before: They talked into the night. At his kitchen table the color of chaff. Drank. Pulled apart cinnamon rolls and spooned great mugs of soup. There were notebooks, soon burned. Animals came from the roadsides, moved through his unkempt yard. They ate his trash and coiled in the weeds by the shed. Under the moon, eyes and rattling heads. She said they could go anywhere. At the window he pulled the old sheets closed and thanked the absent Lord for her steel. When he sat down again she was staring into her bourbon, tilting, twirling the glass. He asked what was on her mind. Ships, she said.

Linda Wojtowick

Nickel

 

Linda Wojtowick is a writer from Montana. She currently sleeps and wakes in Portland, Oregon where she indulges her cinematic obsessions without restraint. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and her work has been most recently featured in The Slag Review, Visitant, and Calamus Journal.