The Other Side
by Tracy Holczer
"The thing about love is ..." Mother didn’t finish the sentence. She never did when she talked to the kitchen wall.
Two inches of ash burned from a cigarette in an old pie tin. Juliet watched as the tiny fire died against the filter. She removed their two plates from the wobbly table and set them into the kitchen sink.
“Everything’s cracked …They’re coming…” Mother said.
Juliet backed away and crept to her room, pulling the door closed. The dark curled its smoky tail around her chest, stealing her breath, like the cat out of her mother’s nightmares. Lights were forbidden beyond the kitchen. That was how the devil found you in your dreams.
Juliet opened the curtain just enough to peer out into the twilight. As she did, a bird shadow flew from one branch to another. And then again. Juliet’s heart beat like a fist against her ribs. Let me out, let me out.
With trembling hands, she threw clothes into a white eyelet pillowcase.
Mother still talked in the kitchen. Slowing down. "The thing… about love is ..."
Juliet stood in the hallway. The front door was just beyond the glow of the kitchen. She knew about love. It was on the other side.