Marlene Olin–Circling

Marlene Olin–Circling

The raptor swoops overhead. Is it a hawk?

“We should move here,” says Armie.

We’re hiking String Lake. While one side of my face is sun-kissed, the other’s eclipsed in the shade. I look down at my feet, careful of tree roots and large rocks, anything to trip over. It would be so embarrassing to trip.

“Let’s start all over. Just you and me. It’ll be fabulous.” He swoops his arm, lassoing the sky.

The path is barely wide enough for one and when he touches the back of my shoulder, when his fingertips brush my hair, I startle, lose my footing, almost trip.

Is it a falcon I wonder? Perhaps it is a kite.

“Remember how it used to be,” he says. “Remember that time in Orlando? Remember how we laughed?”

The signs were everywhere. Like paw prints, tracks. Changing his password on the computer. Hiding his phone bill. I should have looked harder. I should have taken a shovel and dug.

“We could build a cabin,” he says. “Fill the yard with columbine and lupine. A wood-burning stove and a view of the Tetons. It’ll be fabulous,” he says.

Or maybe it’s a buzzard. Black. Fat. Assured. Yes, it is a buzzard.

It happens when you least expect it. We were walking the mall, on the prowl for sales, our arms laden with packages. Laughing. Joking. On a MasterCard high. His fingers brushed my hair and skimmed my neck. Then we saw her.

“She’s a work acquaintance,” he tells me. “I’m sure I mentioned her.” The talons unfurling now, his voice a squawk. “You know how forgetful you’ve been.” He pivots his neck, scanning the crowd. “I’m sure I mentioned her. She’s just a friend.”

Like it was my fault. Like I should have remembered this woman. Blond. Blue-eyed. Beautiful. The anti-me. Like I would have forgotten her. She stared at Armie like he was lunch.

“Isn’t this mall fabulous!” she says. “The stores, the sales. That new Italian restaurant is just fabulous.”
I listen to the waters lapping, the children laughing. See filaments loop in the air. The lake was nearby. I could smell it. I could taste it. I could hear it. But I was too afraid to look.

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