BY LARRY BROWN
Copyright is held by the author. This story first appeared in SAND Journal (Berlin), then in Best Small Fictions 2017.
BLUE TRIANGLES, solid blue. Too blue, almost, for a food. She brought the cereal with her from her mother’s. On the box blue triangles rain from the sky, landing and glistening in a glass bowl. She is the reason I buy milk.
I set my beer on the counter. A light beer, as if it makes a difference now. My cell hangs at my hip, new “Reveille” ringtone uploaded. I am considering growing a goatee.
That’s your dinner? I say.
She scoops more blue triangles from the bowl and slants the spoon across to where her chin rests in her palm, elbow pinning the notebook open on the table. Perched atop her head are dollar store reading glasses. Her eyes are fine, this must be fashion.
So, she says, not looking up, that’s your dinner?
I am about to take a drink.
Joking, she says.
Really, she says. She adjusts the glasses on her head, glances my way.
I get it, I say. The floor creaks, my weight shifting. I am smiling.
I go to the living room, close the venetian blinds, flick on a couple lamps, check my cell, knowing I missed nothing but believing I could have. Back to the kitchen and my spot at the counter, thinking I should have upped the thermostat, thinking a goatee, well, it could look, I don’t know, forced.
Sometimes I forget, I say. The lights, I forget they’re on.
She lifts her elbow and the notebook page flips on its own.
If I remember, if I’m in bed, I say, coming back downstairs feels too far to go.
The fridge hums. The beer seems to be emptying itself.
I shrug. Sorry, I know you’re studying. Trifling. Her word, earlier, to describe the math test tomorrow.
Those lights, they’re like a night light for you, she says. Nothing wrong with that.
Night light? I say. Then, softer, I add, Maybe.
She pushes away from the table. She dumps her bowl into the sink, wipes her hands on the dish towel. Triangles, not such a solid blue anymore, crowd the drain.
Dad, she says.
Then she springs, her arms locking over mine, trapping my arms to my body. I hear a gasp. It’s me. She places her head against my shoulder.
You’re not so fast, she says, continuing the hug.
Reading glasses stare up at me. I shake my head.
I can’t slow down, I say.