We’d drive together down the coast road, to the brown paneled bars with pool tables and glossy cue sticks. On my back porch, we’d drink Crown Royal and Dr. Pepper while the dog lay under the table shivering from the sound of fireworks. We’d watch movies about poets long since dead and men traversing swamps in low-bottomed boats, and as I lay on you, you’d stay on my couch until I fell asleep. Your face was an overgrown angel, and in doorways, you glowed. Walking into rooms you seemed too light to be real. Sometimes you’d sit in such a way that the V of your shirt showed the scar from your first heart surgery, and I could see the dots left by the needle and thread. Once you left bonsai seeds in my bathroom, and I wrapped them and froze them according to the instructions, but they never made it. Years later, I heard you moved back to your childhood town, with its Liberty Days and First Fridays, and every night at 8 p.m. the train still passed through with its whistle. You could no longer walk up the stairs, and I imagined you sleeping on your mother’s sofa. I heard you died at home with those you love around you, while outside, Christmas lights blinked, and people lined the streets in wait of a parade.
Lydia Copeland Gwyn’s stories and poems have appeared in New World Writing, Jellyfish Review, Nano Fiction, Glimmer Train, The Florida Review, Appalachian Heritage and others. Her work has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in East Tennessee with her husband, son, and daughter.