FICTION, 460 words.
I heard your voice today. Associated Aircraft was decommissioning the old plant and I was in that hallway, our hallway, the one you and I used to walk together each morning and afternoon during our breaks for coffee. I was alone on that ground floor and as I approached the end of the narrow carpeted corridor I heard my name and stopped.
Was it you? Of course it was not, you were long gone, several years gone, moved away, taken on with your life.
That hallway! How we used to laugh as we passed through! We’d catch up on our silly news, our incidentals, our going-mentals, such as the time you deliberately drove over a watch in front of the gift shop after they wouldn’t take it back as a defective return.
You and I would get right to our routine, here in-between these walls, going over our latest big thing.
We’d talk about our dreams, our time passed by, our time to come—and we did it with love.
We’d talk seriously, as hardly anyone does.
My arm around your shoulder as we walked—do you remember?—because there were some days I knew you would be gone, or I would be gone, and this hallway would be empty, and I didn’t want to be left having held nothing of us.
Nor did I want you to be left having not been held.
I heard your voice today, and a pull. I turned around and suddenly you were there, bathed in fresh bright light again. You looked so alive, as if it were three years ago. You had something to tell me, but first you wanted to make sure your words would be private.
So we walked slowly to the mid-point of the hall, the one place we were always assured of secrecy because there were no doors nearby, only solid walls with badly-painted pictures hung too-closely together and crookedly.
You looked left and right, there was no one else around, no one to wonder what we were doing or to question us. And in this surreal replay of the day it actually happened, you told me that you were going to have a baby, and I was the first to know. I was happy with your news but you were scared, you were worried how it was going to work out, financially, with work-hours, being thirty-six, having a terrible boss and your husband’s travels to and from Washington. You were near tears; how was it going to be okay?
And we did it like we’d always done it, one leaned on one who was strong.
The company’s closing, the lights are turning out. Alone in our hallway today, for the very last time, I heard you call my name.
ABOUT— Ara Hagopian’s debut book “What Happened to Vicky Lee? A Collection of Stories” is out now: http://vickyleethebook.com/