Fragment

I unlocked the door with my spare key. “Nora?”

“Fuck off.”

Undeterred, I continued into the apartment. The air was dry and smelled like sour dirt. Something cracked beneath my foot: a fragment of painted clay. They were everywhere, scattered among boxes, papers, scraps of plastic, piles of clothes and other debris. I didn’t stop to examine any of it on my way to the spare bedroom. “Nora?”

A growl.

A crash.

A stifled sob.

I found my sister at her worktable, surrounded by a stack of unpainted pottery and a sea of colored shards. “Fucked up glazes,” she said.

“Nora.”

“Ruined my brushes, but the new ones are shit too.” I trudged through the ruins of her grief to stand beside her. She reached for another pot and said, “Gotta keep working.” Then, moving with a manic fervor, she scooped up brushes, moved between different jars of glaze, dabbed, brushed, and swirled the colors, creating a masterpiece right before me.

A pause.

“FUCK!” She hurled the vessel at the wall, shattering the unfinished piece.

I put my arm around my sister, and she sagged into my supporting embrace. “It’s all fucked,” she lamented.

“I know, Nora. I’m so sorry.”

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Canoe

Inside the shed, he found mostly what he expected: rotting wood, cobwebs, dust-covered tools, and in the middle of it all, a patched up, rusty canoe. “Hello, ugly. Ready for one more trip?”

It was a four hour drive up to the lake. He made only one stop, just like when he was a kid, at the combination gas station and soda parlor that still smelled like stale cigarettes. Despite the October chill, he left the windows of his Ford Tempo cracked so that the bungee cords and twine could loop through and keep the canoe secure on the roof until he arrived.

Frosted fallen leaves crunched beneath his feet as he dragged the boat to the water’s edge. On its surface was reflected a blaze of orange, brown and yellow leaves. By the time he reached the middle of the lake, there were a couple inches of water in the bottom of the canoe. He opened the cooler beside him, no bait, no fish, no beer, not even ice. Instead, he withdrew an urn. “Shoulda just dumped you in the boat and let the whole thing sink,” he muttered. Then with shaking hands, he lifted the lid. “Goodbye, dad.”

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox
Photo by Hasan Albari from Pexels