by Thomas Elson
“5th Avenue and South Second Street”
One evening in this dying river town on the eastern part of the state – whose biggest exports are corn and high school graduates. He inside the car, and two women on the sidewalk – one leaving the store, the other entering.
They passed each other at the exact moment the man looked up.
You know that moment when the woman you’re sleeping with passes the woman you used to sleep with – that moment when your past crosses your future, and all you can think of is how virile you feel.
Smoothing ice chips onto his cracked lips, vainly recalling his days
when broad of chest, strong of thigh.
Days before convex back and concave chest.
Before feet sore, knees weak, lower back uncertain.
Before innards of mush. Lungs before asthma. Heart before a-fib.
When still flat of belly. When weight was less, appetite manageable.
When mind was reliable and memory consistent.
Before eyes dimmed and cried for more light. Before ears required words slower and louder.
And before it took him all night to do what he used to do all night.
Thomas Elson’s stories have been published in numerous venues, including Ellipsis, Better Than Starbucks, The Cabinet of Heed, Flash Frontier, Ginosko, Short Édition, Journal of Expressive Writing, Dead Mule School, The Selkie, New Ulster, Lampeter, and Adelaide. He divides his time between Northern California and Western Kansas.