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104 as they passed in the hallway. Leah felt conflicted and confused. She made up excuses to leave the house, to run redundant errands alone. Wandering through the grocery store in a daze, she would be stunned when in a flash she remembered that she had asked him to leave, that she was going to be alone. Standing in front of the apples holding an empty produce bag in her hands she would be momentarily overwhelmed with panic, with the certainty that she was supposed to run home and drop down to her knees and beg, plead, change her mind again and again. Every time she would get that far something in her would go very still and she knew that she would not drop to her knees, that she did not want to plead or beg. A powerful sense of relief would wash over then, like when she woke from a nightmare and realized that it was just a dream. She felt guilty about all of it, of course. Leah cultivated silence and emptiness in those days – hours would go by and she would realize that she had thought nothing more important than whether the laundry needed to be put in the dryer, whether she had paid the bills or let the dog out or washed the Knight Island counter. Where there should have been a cacophony of voices in her head, there was quiet. Everything felt muffled. Leah couldn’t bear to think too hard, to ponder change. She was afraid that she had used the very last shred of her strength and determination when she told Ben it was over. Sometimes she almost didn’t trust herself to open her mouth, didn’t trust the sounds that might come out – something primal, or cloying perhaps – but instead nothing came out. She would pick up the car keys and head out the door for a can of WD40, or for the cat food she had forgotten. Over the next week Leah tried to look away every time she drove by the doe but at the last moment she always turned and stared. She began almost to look forward to the corpse, to the reassuringly familiar horror of her half skinned and broken body. Every day she was less fresh, less bright, her fur taking on that dull dead matted brown color of things that have no vitality left in them. Once Leah saw ravens feasting on her and had to stifle the urge to stop and chase them off, ranting and cursing and flailing her arms like a woman driven mad by loss. She kind of

CIRQUE liked that idea, of letting herself fall so far that she would do something completely unacceptable and crazy, that strangers and friends alike would stare and shake their heads and then look away mercifully while she raved. It made her feel stable, and powerful, as if there was some safety in knowing that she had further to fall. The doe kept her counsel, and bore silent witness to Leah’s quiet unravelling. Leah found herself talking to the doe as her car approached, mumbling about why she was leaving Ben, how they had gotten to this point. When they drove together Leah dreaded the occasional casual comments of the children about the dead deer, and she resented the very thought that Ben might still be noticing her, that perhaps she might mean something to him as well. Leah needed the doe to be hers alone, to be neglected and ignored by all those around her, so that only she could bear the tragedy of her loss. One morning she was gone. No pageantry, no drama, no ragged bits left for the scavengers to drag into the brush. Barely a smear of blood left on that road, and even that Leah suspected she was mostly making up Monica Devine from memory, embellishing. She was shocked by the doe’s disappearance where earlier she had felt a bit put out by the fact that no one had bothered to remove the body. Leah remembered years before, wondering whose job description included removing road kill, and what they did with the remains. Leah had suspected that the doe couldn’t be expected to stay until she was scattered and eaten and taken back into the very soil, but she missed her with a grief that surprised her. She pulled the car over and rested her head on the steering wheel, resisting the urge to open her door and crawl on her knees through the brush looking for scraps. Who else would bear witness, she wondered? She drove home slowly. **** Leah had grown up moving from state to state across the country and back, the packing boxes never crushed and thrown out, but instead broken down and stored carefully for the next time they were needed. She grew up in cities, following her father’s job transfers from one

Profile for Michael Burwell

Cirque, Vol. 6 No. 2  

A Journal for the North Pacific Rim

Cirque, Vol. 6 No. 2  

A Journal for the North Pacific Rim

Profile for burwellm
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