And Then We Were Strangers
by J. M. Poirot
She was trying so hard, so late in the game. It made me want to cry. A black crow circled slowly above us as though our love was a quivering animal on the ground, bleeding.
I opened the smoking hood, feeling the heat rise up against my face, wishing I was the type of man who knew how to fix cars, fix relationships.
“I’m so sorry.”
“For what?” I muttered. I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. She shivered. In the past, I would have offered her my jacket, wrapping it around her thin shoulders. That felt long ago. I hunched my shoulders, drawing my jacket around me. My breath turned into white puffs of air.
I watched her lean against the car door. She looked too tired to cry. The setting sun glinted off the gold cross on her neck, a gift from a mother who left her when she was ten. I used to finger it, feeling its coldness as she slept. Her father, who’d rather give her money than attention, bought her the car. Like everything else in her life, she didn’t know how to maintain it, give it the care it needed.
“They say you can see the lights of Chicago on a clear night.” I squinted, searching for any sort of movement along the horizon. The road was long and empty. It stretched endlessly into the cornfields.
“Sometimes you need the right set of circumstances to see anything clearly,” she whispered and turned away.