The Idea

Jenn Marie Nunes

Jenn Marie Nunes

It is hot. Hotter than hot. In seconds, my earrings glow red, and tonight there will be little brown marks, tiny scratches of burn along my neck where they dangle. The steering wheel is impossible to grasp, like your hand when we are fighting.

I promised myself not to drive at this hour, the air conditioner can’t compete, but sometimes one needs far away things. A job maybe, some groceries, a specialized piece of equipment like an Allen wrench, an egg separator or your tongue.

Today, you are leaving. I am going to say good-bye. I have a long silk scarf tied around my throat, a soft grey dress, flowers in my hair. Gloves would’ve been smart.

I will leap from the car at the airport, keys forgotten in the ignition, door ajar. “If I Can’t Have You” or maybe “The Man That Got Away” will be on the radio. My heels will click concrete, linoleum, ring on the escalator. Through security I will run, and those fools in their dark uniforms and bored expressions will reach out their hands. Stop her, someone will yell as I sprint to the gate, but no one can.

You will be on the tarmac, waiting to ascend those rickety steps they use for the puddle-jumpers. My scarf billowing behind like a white sail. My perfect painted lips parted, I will stumble just as you turn to me and my name will burst from you like a puff of dandelion seed and float there, trapped in the dense July air.

You step forward and we collide. You absorb my rush in one long kiss, your head bent down at an angle. When I break away you cup my chin and tip my face up and kiss me on the nose. No trace of my lipstick on your face. My tears, two parallel tracks down each cheek. You promise the hours will feel like days.

A kindly guard, a gruff woman with a thick middle and Farrah Fawcett hair, takes my elbow and leads me inside. She buys me a cup of coffee and tells me about the whims of this our world. I will dry my face on my scarf. It will be Lou Reed on the radio.

Later, when you were gone three weeks and had not returned my calls, not even the drunk ones at 4am your time, not the ones where I told your voicemail I’d found that sweater, the missing sock, the magazine you bought in March. Not the one where I claimed I was outside your new place, I could see Dobbie through the window, not even when I swore to your voicemail I was feeding him anti-freeze, then I wondered which piece was missing. Was the lipstick the wrong shade? Should the scarf have been shorter? Longer? A pale shade of yellow? That last thing you said to me as you threw your one suitcase into the back of the cab – that I was only in love with the idea of things. What on earth did you mean?


Jenn Marie Nuness holds an MFA in creative writing from Louisiana State University, where she was the fiction editor of the New Delta Review. Her fiction and poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in several journals, including PANK, Drupe Fruits, elimae, The Sonora Review, and Danse Macabre.


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