The Shots Fired, The Shots Calledhttps://i0.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/63764C4C-5A5C-4631-968B-5510B7190D46.jpeg?fit=747%2C994&ssl=1747994T.L. SherwoodT.L. Sherwoodhttps://i0.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/6.24A-e1549259263995.jpg?fit=96%2C79&ssl=1
Sniveling, aching, running until you drop. Sprawled out, like a kid playing jacks, your legs cramping, sweating. You bend them, notice the sharp cushy pricking, see, finally see the red orange long twin needles. Their hinge is black. You twirl it around, marvel at the abundance of these things. They’re as thick as the cheap carpet in the first house you rented with the guy who just broke your heart. You pile up a few of the needles, notice they cover a film of soil, dark, grainy. There be mycelium here. You even out the pile, wipe your hand against your nose, figure if you’re going to be called childish, you can damned well act that way. You swipe away the snot, rub it into the dirt by your side and look at the trunks around you: tall, straight, nearly evenly spaced and you’re reminded of bars in a jail cell and really, wasn’t that what your marriage was like? Bound to one another, with no escape, forever and ever. Except it’s not and he let go of you and if you were honest, you never really grabbed a hold of him with the same amount of love because, well, you forget why. Did he have to tell you so coldly not that the marriage was over, which everyone knew, but saying “I don’t love you anymore” in a monotone so chilling that a serial killer would shudder? And that’s what your legs did. Your legs shuddered and you slapped him. He grabbed your hand and said, “Only children and idiots settle things through violence.” That made you want to grab his ears and pull them off but you used your ungrabbed hand to sweep everything from crockpot to crouton bag to the floor. You left and ran until you couldn’t and nothing is settled and you give up again, wonder if anyone ever loved you. Lying on the mat of rust colored needles on top of wild mushrooms and juicy morels roots, you gaze up at the treetops and the way they touch reminds you of the pillars in cathedrals. You relax because what else are you going to do with this broken heart, but wait for a word from on high, hope to God God exists and he can mend your soul. A leaf from a scrawny ash blows your way, falls down, lands on your cheek, and kisses you awake.
T. L. Sherwood lives in western New York near Buffalo. She’s Fiction Editor at Literary Orphans and the Assistant Editor of r.kv.r.y Quarterly Literary Journal. Her most recent work appeared in New World Writing. She’s currently working on a novel.