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NO ONE IS SAFE
by Susan Tepper

Staring out across the broad vista of grass I was glad the park was empty of people that day. If I wanted to, needed to, I could stretch out across the bench and cry my heart out; if I wanted to; needed to. Instead I kicked off my moccasins. Leaned back with my feet planted in the grass. I remember noticing the bench being comfortable with a good slope. Whoever donated it had taken the time to have it properly inscribed. A small brass plaque read: In Loving Memory of Margaret Percy. Neat. Unobtrusive. Attached to the back by tiny, rounded brass screws. I had run my finger over that plaque wondering: Did Margaret Percy have a good life? Sunlight filtering down through the leaves made those brass screws sparkle like diamonds.

"Too bad," I'd whispered, looking sadly at my bare ring finger. More than ten years a diamond ring, and diamond-crusted wedding band had nested there. Ten years felt like a long time. Like forever. Those rings had dented my skin - from a few extra pounds. Hardly noticeable - the dent, the pounds, the years. Then feeling defensive I'd thought: I have two good eyes, I own a mirror, men still turn around when I walk down the street.

~~~

One morning at breakfast Ronald had started to cry. Quickly confessing to having an affair. The air in the kitchen seemed to thicken all at once - everything looking overly textured. Toast on my plate - all of a sudden had these tiny secret holes. This is all wrong, I'd wanted to say. All wrong. This is toast here, not an English Muffin. English Muffins have those little nooks and crannies. Why have they suddenly appeared on my toast? I kept staring at the toast. I wanted to stay calm. I wanted to say: But I thought you were happy. I didn't do any of that. I jumped up screaming and punched the sugar bowl. "I'll kill you," I said to Ronald, "I'll never forgive you."

~~~

 

Copyright 2007 by Susan Tepper


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