The sun is settling into morning while Mindy begins swimming. She swims to clear the residue of the previous night’s dreams. She does so each morning. Her worries and wants disperse into the ocean; fluttering away until distance is her savior. She relies on this clearing.

So far this plan has accomplished a decade's worth of success.

Today is different.

Today, she emerges from the ocean with mind and body as energized as the raucous waves that tousle her hair and kiss her tingling pores.

Today, Routine is not strong enough to distract Mindy.

Today, Martha arrives.


Graph 5: The Parting

The beast soared overhead, cawing.

He lifted the rifle, aimed, and fired. It was a complete miss. Flying off, the crow cawed twice more. A reproach? Or was it mockery?

Higgy sighed. His eyesight had worsened; his body overall was deteriorating. He couldn't bear to look at his reflection in the mirror anymore. When had he gotten so old?

The walk home was only a couple of miles. He looked out over the tall grasses and narrow dirt road. Clouds had gathered, and he was thankful for the reprieve from the sun's glare. He wondered if Martha had left for the coast yet, and if she would ever return.

Her announcement had been a surprise.

"I'm going to San Diego," she told him Sunday morning last week.

"When?" he asked, putting down his coffee mug.

"Two weeks from today."

"You're going to see Mindy?"

"Yes," she said.

Her response was firm. She did not seem to want to answer more questions. He looked back at the newspaper he had been reading. She pushed her chair back from the table noisily and went into the kitchen.

The last time she had announced something was when she had the miscarriage.

"I lost the baby," was all she said. He hugged her, and she seemed to go limp in his arms. She never cried, though - something he never understood.

He couldn't help but think that maybe his day had come. She would leave him the way that Bill left Connie, or the way his own mother left his father two years before his death.

He heard the crow again, cawing from a near distance. He lifted his gun, and fired.