Something he used to do when he was teaching me how to smoke.

The House

July 3

Something about the house has been bothering me for days; I just haven’t been able to figure out what. Then, this morning, as I drove by on my way to Audrey’s for breakfast, it hit me: his mother’s geese are gone. For years, his mother kept a row of ceramic geese, lined up by size, in the dining room window. He’s never gotten rid of them.

July 8

The kitchen curtains are gone. I noticed the bare window on my way to work. I drove by again on my lunch break, just to make sure.

July 10

Another steaming hot weekend. I spent two nights in Audrey’s cool basement apartment. On Saturday night, we drank two bottles of red wine and wondered how our lives would be different if we had husbands. Or even boyfriends. We ended the night reading aloud from a book called How to Land Mr. Wonderful, sprawled on our backs in the middle of the floor, a bottle of wine in reaching distance between us, choking on desperate laughter.

July 11

Monday morning. I had a funny feeling on the way to work. My hand shook as I lifted my coffee cup to my mouth, and I spilled a little on my uniform. But nothing new at the house. I drove by faster than usual. Relaxed.

July 14

It’s so hot and so still it feels like there’s no air at all. I can’t breathe. So I have been driving around in the car. For the air conditioning. Garage door was open, boxes piled inside. One of them marked, ‘MASTER BEDROOM – FRAGILE’.

July 15

Moving van in the driveway. Men sweating right through their uniforms. Him pushing a wheelbarrow, his little girl inside with a box on her lap. Long red ponytail. Long sunburned legs dangling over the edges. Laughing and laughing. I honked. He looked up. Shielded his eyes from the sun. Blank look. I waved anyway. Stupid. Stupid.

July 16

Sat in my car for a long time last night. Thinking maybe he’d see me and come out to say goodbye. Thinking maybe he’d planned to say goodbye anyway. Sat outside until midnight, listening to the sixteen-year-old next door giggling and sighing about boys with her best friend. They waved to me. I smoked a bunch of cigarettes, watching the flames from the matches burn down and then dropping them into my almost-empty can of Coke and listening to the hissss sound they made. Something he used to do when he was teaching me how to smoke. Wondering how it is that he was able to quit so easily, and I just can’t.


Shannon Hancock lives in Bowmanville, Ontario and works as a script clearance researcher. She is a member of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region, and her work has previously appeared in “lichen.”


To comment on this story, visit Fiction365’s Facebook page.