The first thing to go, he sighs, is your self-respect.
He lightly brushes the floor to locate what he has dropped without crushing it. We haven't seen each other since high school, thirty years since we crossed that stage in our black caps and gowns and ran out the back door, his car around the block, parked in a place no one could see him pop open a Black Label, chug it down like a dehydrated camel, prospector in the desert, alchemist with elixir, his throat worshipping, one hand pressing the can to his mouth, the other already on the next.
I blink at him now from the couch. He's made his way under the table on his hands and knees, teen aged son asleep up stairs, new baby in a crib down the hall by the side of a tired bed in the master suite, which is really a long, thin room with a bath and a walk-in closet.
He searches for something I have never seen: a rock, a jewel, diamond of release, like that third beer and then the fourth decades ago while I urged that our parents were waiting in the church basement beside a bowl of punch, a cake imprinted with our Crusader and the year that would divide us for what turns out not to be forever because here I am, having just met his third wife who is even doing the dishes at the sink while she tidies up before the escape they're attempting to manage, who calls out from the kitchen that, if he can't find it, Roberta down the street has more.
BIO: Sandra Kolankiewicz's stories and poems have appeared, or will be appearing, in Per Contra, North American Review, Chicago Review, Confrontation, Gargoyle, New Plains, Bellingham Review, Solo Novo, Louisville Review, and in the anthologies Sudden Fiction and Four Minute Fictions. Her chapbook Turning Inside Out is available from Black Lawrence Press. Blue Eyes Don't Cry won the Hackey Award for the Novel. She teaches Developmental English in West Virginia.