It was the first long weekend since classes started. Several of us planned a trip to the coast, in spite of the weather. Rosie’s uncle had a place near Newport where he spent the summer with his family and he’d asked her to check on it during the off-season. Thornton asked if she really had permission to bring a crowd, but she pretended not to hear him. And no one else posed the question again. We all believed we needed a break, deserved a break, from college-life conundrums.
The night before we left, extreme warnings of high winds had been issued by the weather service. Someone made a joke about the Midwest, forgetting, or not forgetting, I had come out here from Ohio. Apparently the Northwest was too sophisticated for a Midwest twister. So cancelling our trip was out of the question. We were barely twenty and completely untouchable.
At least a dozen of us crammed into the floor of the van, holding packs on our laps, piles of snacks and bottles, and blankets wedged around our feet. When we stopped to get gas, I noticed the air had changed. When no one else mentioned it, I was hesitant to say anything. They all knew the smell of rain here, and rarely gave in to the gloom, but I knew the approach of a storm. The pressure landed right next to you and held your face for a moment before letting you turn to find nothing near you at all And there were too many trees to see the sky, to see what might be coming.
~ Megan M. Codera
Out here, the woods will capture you. Weather creeps in cautiously, as rain and snowflakes stumble between branches and it is unclear, at first, if the sky truly has something to say. You hear the rain before you feel it. You have to stop to decipher any sounds of rain or pine needles or snapped twigs. And most of what you hear, you cannot see. No matter how you search. Then, whatever the woods collects from the sky, refuses to leave long after the fields have dried. Rain gathers for days, flooding the roots and bramble to create unexpected creeks and ponds. Spots of snow gleam from the brownest muck of winter and ice glazes the tips of branches. Meanwhile, light has fairly strict parameters around the edge of forest, with the brief extended reach of sunrise and sunset, depending on where you stand. And then there’s the wind. Out here, one can almost forget about the wind. It will catch you in the clearings and only then will you look up to see the tops of trees swaying like feathers. Out here, the wind has to get pretty rowdy before it will be allowed a low blow.
The children stay for hours, forgetting all about the sky and time and food and home. So it is really no wonder that when Nellie took just a few more steps, to confirm that trick of light, she found something she would never find again, something she would never forget…
~ Megan M. Codera
Allen broke up with me on post-its. I almost missed the small, slightly askew, stack of pale yellow notes. They weren’t even the full-size squares or fun shades of bold neon. They were tiny. When I came home from work, as I set down the mail on the hutch, I barely noticed them neatly placed just to the left of the rest of the unopened mail. The stack was too thick to be an explanation of leftovers and not thin enough for one of his plain haiku. Nor did they appear to contain the passive aggressive points he often issued with an angry little stack, more boldly expressed with a Sharpe. These were written in pencil. Like a whisper.
The automatic assumptions made within the first several seconds of a potential change flash so quickly you rarely have a moment to determine whether such thoughts could even be considered rational. The other night, an ambulance arrived at grumpy old Reggie’s next door and I hate to admit I had a ping of excitement. I was going to make brownies for the new young couple who bought his house after he died. I would share a bottle of wine with the wife on a spring Friday afternoon, both of us home early from work. The men would come home and commiserate at our heading into the weekend without them while they got the grill started. And then we’d all snack on skewers and brats and too much wine in Reggie’s beautiful Japanese garden.
Of course, it takes you more time to say such thoughts or write such thoughts than it does to entertain them, secretly, in that brief moment. It’s more like a series of fast frame photos. They snap faster than you could press, but you can still go back and look at dozens of pictures, taken milliseconds apart.
When I saw those notes, I knew he was gone. And though I would never admit it to him, not even now, there was a slight moment when I felt relieved, even free. Just a slight moment, prior to the panic.
~ Megan M. Codera
On the first day of the year, she dreamed she ate her own insides, raw. She opened her torso like a cardigan and dug lightly with her fork into the belly first. Stomach and liver, even a bit of kidney. Each bite came easily. As she worked her way deeper into each part of the open cavity, the lungs had a lure she couldn’t quite place. She wanted to taste them and save them all at once. They were slow-roasted and simple and fresh. So instead, she went straight for the heart. She was pleased with the flavor, the tenderness. And while she was aware of the ridiculous metaphor, she was more interested that as she took these careful bites, chewing and savoring, she continued to breathe. With her heart gone, she felt neither full nor empty. And so she moved on to the lungs. The fork instantly seared and dissolved the tissue. Open and exposed, all of her breath escaped and dissipated. And then there was nothing left to keep her going, nothing left to continue to consume.
~ Megan M. Codera