When He Left

Francine Witte

It was summer. It was soft exhale of sky and cloudfloat. It was a lemonade glass you rolled on your throat and humid drops of where did he go? Where did he go? It was you should have not stayed in the sun so long, you know how easy you burn. It was a walk on the beach, the sudden screech of gulls like thoughts hanging in the air. It was when he told you he wasn’t sure and you told him, it’s okay, I’ll give you time, but time isn’t yours to give. It was strange perfume scent and no way not to smell it. It was telling yourself he fell in a patch of wildflowers. Meanwhile your hair was feathered, you skin drying down to wilt. You, the part of the peach leftover after the succulent flesh is bitten and stripped. The sky a collection of hearts and orange and spill of leftover love.

When he left

It was autumn. It was crunch and pumpkin and all the tricks your heart always makes. Eyescoop and goo and that’s what makes a face. And you know it’s only pumpkins that work that way because there were no smiles on his face anymore. He wasn’t lit from within anymore, and you could feel the breeze each time he walked in the room. You tried to remind him of apple picking and cinnamon and the sweet stickiness of toffee. You were trying to think of what could hold him, what could keep him, and you knew there was nothing but winter coming up soon.

When he left

It was winter. It was raw claw of icy branch where the sun didn’t look anymore. It was oh you should have worn a hat which was another way to say you shouldn’t have introduced to your sisterbestfriendcoworker. You know how that is just another hole in the ice, another slip and skid and there you are, your car spinning like the hands of time which don’t stop, don’t stop and you were cleaning the snow slop off the hallway floor, the wood all buckled and warped and rather than go after him one more goddamn time, you get on your knees, which are buckled now and warped themselves, what with time taking all it can, stuffing it in a sack, and there you are rubbing circles on the floor that will never feel his footsteps again, your back will never feel his strum.

When he left

There was no spring.


Francine Witte’s flash fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous journals. Most recently, her stories have been in Best Small Fictions and Flash Fiction America. Her latest flash fiction book is Just Outside the Tunnel of Love (Blue Light Press.) Her upcoming collection of poetry, Some Distant Pin of Light is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press. She lives in NYC. Visit her website francinewitte.com.