with and without [original]


Heads, tails. Yes, no. With, without.

The coin rests on her palm, innocent of all the things she is laying on it, reflecting the bright sun at her, the metal new and not yet scarred from being passed from hand to hand. She tosses it once, gently, and watches how the light runs off it. How it hovers imperceptibly before falling back into her hand. A moment of indecision or certainty?

Without . . . .

It would be so simple to walk away. To leave this life which is being offered her. But she closes her fingers on the coin, and stays anyway.


Your empty hands fumble with the tablecloth, restless creatures seeking something which can’t be found. I’d thought I had seen you at your most anxious, but this . . . it is like watching someone try to crawl out of their skin. When you called me, you sounded empty, but right now you look too full.

“What’s wrong?” I ask, carefully, as if approaching a wild thing.

“Nothing,” you say, far too casual, eyes fixed on the creased fabric. It’s a lie. “Everything.” And despite the hyperbole, it’s almost the truth. “She left me,” you say at last, and your hands go still.


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