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dark marks on her hands when she touched them and made her neck itch. She was afraid to ask where the necklaces had come from. "You're pregnant?" he whispered. She didn't answer. After entering the house, he kept dropping his cigarette in the wrong places, forgetting to snuff out the tip. He set the couch on fire, and Meg's mother killed the flames with the fire extinguisher that flooded the room with white powder. Meg could barely see her parents' faces through the smoke-haze. They were coughing, and she could hardly breathe. But the fire was out. Her mother opened a window as her father clutched the doll to his chest. "Hank," her mother yelled, "for God's sakes." "What have you done?" Meg asked. "Hell," he said. "You drink too much," her mother said to her father, "and you smell bad." "I smell?" he asked, sniffing the doll. Meg wanted a cup of coffee and offered him one. He refused and she suspected he had never liked her coffee because she mixed Maxwell House with Folgers Crystals and Starbucks Breakfast Blend. Before he left that night, he asked to take the doll with him. She was drinking coffee with her mother. They held the warm cups in their hands, waving to him on the dark porch as he drove away singing a lullaby, buckling the doll into the passenger's seat as if it were a child riding beside him. "Say bye-bye, Rainbow Bright," her mother whispered as if to the wind. "Say bye-bye, Daddy." Meg didn't want to say anything, so she went inside to pour herself another cup of the bittersweet coffee that tasted of metal, ashes, oatmeal, stale cigarettes, roses, rancid cashews, and candles.

***

A month later, Meg noticed her belly's reflection in the lake. As she stood on the shore, her mother and father whispered to each other about the chains. The girl's body drifted slowly, and the boat stalled. When the boat reached the shore, men were tugging the chains, taking up the slack, dragging the body to the grass. The girl's hair was fu ll of mud, and some of the mud was coming off on the rocks. The sheriff put a towel over the girl's face, or rather the place where her face used to be. People crowded closer to look at the body before the coroner came to take it away. The girl's skin was gray. Her chest was tom, and her broken ribs resembled driftwood. Meg's father stared at the lake and hid the doll inside the folds of his army jacket, hunched against what he concealed as he crept along the muddy shore. Summer • Fall 2006

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Fugue 31 - Summer/Fall 2006 (No. 31)  

The Literary Digest of the University of Idaho

Fugue 31 - Summer/Fall 2006 (No. 31)  

The Literary Digest of the University of Idaho