A friend from college sends me an actual letter and a snapshot where she sits on a wall in front of a lion’s cage, the hindquarters and a tail glimpsed through bars in the background. Her daughter stands beside her in a sweet flowered dress, her dark hair a wave of preteen style. The twin boys sit on her lap, one with a balloon on a string, most of its green orb floating out of view. The other one has shaped his lips into a horror movie scream and squinted his eyes into tears. My friend’s mouth is hidden by the boy with the balloon, so I cannot tell if she is smiling, but her eyes are a glassed helplessness, an empty pond cleared by acid rain. Her letter speaks of memory: our days hiking the Pacific Coast Trail, the summer after graduation, how we lugged our painting supplies and ate Irish cheddar on bread while we listened to the laughter of some stream just out of view. Once we skinny-dipped in a pool of water so cold our skin shrank and hardened as we searched for the breath and strength to climb out. The ink on these pages looks wet as I read.
At the end she writes: I looked for a picture of me so you would see how I am now, but I could only find this one of a woman with three children. She seems about my age.
Beth Konkoski is a writer and high school English teacher living in Northern Virginia with her husband and two children. Her work has been published in numerous literary journals including: Mid-American Review, The Baltimore Review, Smokelong Quarterly, and New Delta Review. She writes fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, and is interested in which will emerge from her early drafts. While not very good at tweeting, she can be found at @beth_konkoski.