portion of the artwork for Lydia Copeland Gwyn's story

Summer’s Work
Lydia Copeland Gwyn

She took a trip west with a boyfriend once, where she watched the land slide into desert and the ice melt in the drive-thru cups. The boyfriend had spilled gasoline on his shoes, and the smell stayed with them through the red dust and saguaro, through the desert-sand verbena flowers. They watched a car on fire, rolling down the highway. A woman on the side of the road watched with them, crying about her paintings burning in the trunk. Her summer’s work. Her nose was bloody. Her hands shook. They put a denim jacket over her shoulders and waited for the police. That night the boyfriend pulled off the road and into the desert. They unzipped a sleeping bag and slept in the back seat, face to face, and after her boyfriend had gone to sleep, she heard something brush by the car. She thought of coyote fur and coyote eyes glowing like the blue of a candle flame. She woke every hour. In the morning, the boyfriend found pancakes for them. He seemed to always know how to find the empty places, out of the way, where the waitresses came to the table without a pen and memorized their orders. There was a George Jones song and a guy at the counter eating eggs before work. One day the boyfriend would move away, to a state with farmland and dairies. She would think of him sometimes, when things weren’t right with her life, when her husband took his own apartment for a while, when her daughter was removed from school. Her old boyfriend, with his country children and pretty wife who worked in a doctor’s office.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 46 | Fall 2015