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by Susan Tepper

In the park a faint breeze rustled the leaves of the berry tree. Tilting my head back I'd felt a cool brush of air across my face and arms and legs - the loveliest kind of breeze - the kind that makes a person stop and think. There on the bench I had to gulp back tears. Because after Ronald told me, there wasn't anyone. No one to touch my face or arms or legs. Or any part of me. I had stared up into the tree. Noisy birds and squirrels were picking off the berries. I'd looked out across the wide sweep of grass then around behind me at the mountain - green and swarming - crowded with oaks and tulip trees. Then I turned back around, looking beyond the far road in the distance, shouts coming from the tennis courts and swimming pool: in the distance. Everything in the distance.

I'm empty, I had thought stroking my bare ring finger.

Those days I believe I did a lot of thinking about that finger. I may have obsessed over it. Telling myself how young it looked freed from the restraints of the diamond rings, how that finger looked longer without them, prettier, more slender. Almost virginal. That was how I came to see that finger - if a finger could be labeled in such a way. No heavy stones holding it down, announcing to the world, in a showy burst, that I was linked.


"What else can you tell me?" that reporter said into the phone.

What else? "Well, you see, I was just so busy thinking. On the bench. That I guess I didn't notice the man slip up behind me. One minute he wasn't there, then he was. Like how the stars come out at night. One minute they're not there, then they are. Who ever notices exactly when it happens?"

The reporter had coughed. "That bit about the stars, that's nice."

Is it really? I'd found myself wondering. Is it really nice? Or is this guy just trying to butter-me-up?


Copyright 2007 by Susan Tepper

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