A small metal fan whirs in a corner, succeeding only in moving the oppressive heat from one part of the room to the other. Yet for this we are grateful. Soon the grid will overload and even this tiny bit of relief will cease for the day.
We lie naked on the tile floor. I recall the nights when I sought out the warmth of your body. Now we do not touch.
Outside the moon casts a yellow glow through the heavy smoke of fires that burn across the landscape nonstop now. The air, thick with cinder, does not respect borders. Skeletons of birds crunch underfoot. We dare not unmask and so no longer recognize our neighbors.
Once a day we fill the bathtub with cold water, all that is allowed per household. We take turns sinking beneath the surface, returning to the vast icy lakes of our northern Ohio childhood.
Jayne Martin is a 2017 Pushcart nominee, 2016 winner of Vestal Review’s VERA award, and a 2018 Best Small Fictions nominee. Her work has appeared in Literary Orphans, Spelk, Crack the Spine, Midwestern Gothic, formercactus, MoonPark Review, Blink-Ink, Blue Fifth Review, Bending Genres, Hippocampus and Connotation Press, among others. She lives in California where she drinks copious amounts of fine wine and rides horses, though not at the same time.