Beside the stove we ate an orange. Your fingers peeled the pith in one slender sleeve, and it curled in the palm of your hand. I leaned against the countertop, its edges cool as bone. I wanted to talk about yesterday, about our meeting with the doctor. I watched your mouth suck the juice from one grinning segment of orange and thought of the night before when you brought your lips to mine and we kissed and made love enough times for me to use superlatives. The rooms of our house were quiet. We were quiet. Our neighbor on the other side of the wall talked on the phone and walked up and down the staircase. Her dog trailing behind her, claws clicking on the hard wood. While you slept, I thought about the spot in your lung, how it could or couldn’t mean the end, and how you didn’t want to find out. “Put me on a boat,” you’d said, “and push me out to sea.” Our children slept. In their room, with walls white as a winter sky, there was a pair of pink tennis shoes on a wooden dresser, a box of marbles and dollar bills under a bed. No doubt, our son must have been dreaming of the tiny tooth that was pulled out by a door knob and that slid across the floor so fast no one could locate it.

Lydia Copeland Gwyn’s stories have appeared in the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, SmokeLong Quarterly, Quick Fiction, elimae, Glimmer Train, and elsewhere. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, son, and daughter.