I left but then returned in the after of after, when the world was mostly smoke and the air was completely ruined, without telling my husband or his other wife, those other girls with his eyes and her hair that I found under the stairs. We had agreed to leave it all behind. The silver vessels. The 132 Couroc trays I had collected. Our wedding rings. The cat’s ashes. My mother’s. The stinky sinks that you could never fully clean, not with help, not ever. The hair clustered in the drains. The geologic rings of calcium around the pool. The still-boxed Christmas lights. The speculum. The college syllabi. Love letters. Computers. The photographs of pain that were his life’s work, women’s mouths, mostly, frozen, opening into the acrid air. They were saying untold things, only my husband knows just what, and now they weren’t saying anything. They were burning. They had probably already burned.


This story was originally drafted in one day.