I Took the Train
Lydia Copeland
Break
We lived in the basement with our TV in front of the half window. We'd watch movies and tune out all the feet walking by. Our building was crumbling. It was old and our section of town flooded with every rain. Sometimes it felt like we were sinking in our sleep.
I dressed up for work every day and pretended to have it made. I walked around like Coco Chanel with a tan and a tiny gold necklace and a certain pair of sunglasses.
My husband was in art school, drawing nude models and different perspectives of his feet all day. Sometimes he'd dress me up in a pirate patch and a black cape and take my picture, and I'd end up in the background of one of his drawings.
He was gone a lot, working late in the class studio where the light was better and there were projectors and drafting tables. Sometimes I'd tag along and eat my dinner at the window sill; chicken wrapped in foil, mashed potatoes.
I'd been craving mashed potatoes since day one. And waffles. Plain waffles. No butter and no syrup. I knew right away that meant I was pregnant. And now here we were at six months, sinking into the city with everybody's feet. I worried about that. About bringing a child into our life.
I worried about gas leaks too. And car crashes and lightning striking our building. I thought my husband might think I was crazy; so I kept it to myself, made secret lists of things to check and tighten and people to call before the baby got here.
My husband knew me. We'd be on the couch some Sunday morning, and I'd be going through the electrical outlets in my head, and he'd ask what was going on in this mind of mine. "Nothing," I'd say. "I'm peachy keen."
And then one night he didn't come home, said he had a project to finish and would be at school until daylight, until it was finished. I took the train. I stood outside his building. I saw the lights in his classroom and him, only him, pacing the room. Then I watched him stare into a roll of paper taped to the wall. His drawings were precise. His fingers, his hands made such small movements. The window was open and I could hear an old country song I remembered from my childhood. Something about falling in love in Texas and having to leave.
I watched my husband, could see every detail of his clothing, every blink. His breathing.
Lydia Copeland's stories have appeared in Quick Fiction, Pindeldyboz, Dogzplot, Glimmer Train and others. Her chapbook, Haircut Stories is available from the Achilles Chapbook Series, as well as in the chapbook collective Fox Force 5 from Paper Hero Press. She works in Manhattan and lives in New Jersey with her husband and son.