When she returns I will pretend she was never gone. “Hi,” I’ll say. “Roast chicken sound good for dinner?” When she returns I will slap her face and shove her out the door. When she returns I will buy her flowers every day. I will take her for a romantic trip, where we’ll stay in a cabin perched high above the Pacific, watching the waves tumbling and scrapping and smashing each other from so far away it will seem like nothing. When she returns I’ll study her hands, whether she’s keeping her nails polished for another man. When she returns I will not ask her if I’m a better lover than he was. When she returns I will ask her if I’m a better lover than he was. If the answer is yes, I won’t believe her. When she returns I’ll put a tracking device on her car. I’ll hide her purse so she can never leave. I’ll bring her coffee in bed in the morning. When she returns I’ll watch her every moment for that look in her eyes, that blank look like a waveless lake that she had before. I’ll watch her eyes when she sleeps, see the REM twitch and imagine who she’s dreaming of. When she returns I will pretend she was never gone.
Ann Hillesland’s work has been published or is forthcoming in over two dozen literary journals and anthologies, including Fourth Genre, Monkeybicycle, Sou’wester, r.kv.ry, Prick of the Spindle, Anderbo, Open City, and SmokeLong Quarterly. It has been selected for the Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions 2012 and presented onstage by Stories On Stage. She is a graduate of the MFA program at Queen’s University of Charlotte.