Hot Air

The breeze gently sucks at the curtain, as with asthmatic breaths. The heat makes everything silent. In the distance, a dog barks listfully, probably hoping someone would run some cool water into its bowl.

She sips at her sweating glass, the melted ice communing with sweetly sour lemonade. She touches the side of the glass to her forehead and lets out a slow, shallow sigh.

The breeze kicks up a few dried leaves and tosses them across the front walk. A footstep follows and her eyes open to see a tall, dusty figure standing below the porch. He holds a felt hat in his left hand as his right presses a linen handkerchief to his temples.

She had hoped to see him again one of these days, but had nearly given up. When she had imagined it, though, it was very much like this. His posture, the air about him, the utter silence, were all so much like her dreams, she first guesses she has fallen asleep in the porch swing. When he speaks, the realness becomes evident.

He had not come back for reconciliation. He had decided to remarry and needed her signature on divorce papers. Neither had anything to fight over. She lives in her dead mother’s house. The paperwork was a mere formality.

She brings him out a glass of lemonade with fresh ice, and he sips while she reads through the legalese. Smiling, she signs, dates, and initials in all the correct locations. She hands the packet back to him and they shake hands. They hold the grasp a moment longer while he thanks her and wishes her well.

He takes a hesitant step in reverse, pivots on his heel and returns to the front walk. As he makes his way, not in a hurry, he sets his hat atop his head. One last smiling look to her, and he is heading back down the road, out of her life for good.

She stays on the porch, as still as the hot air had become. She wasn’t exactly sure when the breeze had lost its battle. A dog attempts a half-hearted bark in the distance. She sits, not moving in the porch swing, until the sun dips below the treetops.

In the reddish glow, she finally is able to free herself from her perch. Taking the few steps to the door, she closes it behind her. She sets her empty glass in the kitchen sink. Above the refrigerator, in the ignored cupboard, she takes hold of the revolver. Bracing herself against the counter, she slides it in until the sight bead touches her soft palette. The hammer is cocked, and she pulls the trigger.