She Loved Them Both, In All Honesty

         She wonders if he can somehow hear her.

         She says things to comfort him: “The doctors are amazed at your progress.”

         She says things to assure him: “No matter what, I’m here for you.”

         Mostly, though, it’s innocuous banter about the weather outside, what errands she’s planned, how the minutes get lost and she’s running especially late.

         Still, with him there all bandaged up, eyes all black and puffy, IV’s running into his arms, and every breath, every heartbeat, owing to the respirator to which he’s hooked, she supposes her words are white noise at best. But more likely, nothingness. Six months and counting on life support.

         She thinks the term “life support” is an oxymoron in this case.


         That afternoon she leaves the city for the rural roadways and the prison that’s notorious for being so understaffed on one side of the bars and so overcrowded on the other. Visiting hours cut off at five, and she floors the gas pedal. Time with her brother is precious.

         He says little, just mumbles a lot. He provides terse, unenlightening answers. Says things like, “I manage okay, all things considered,” or “The food’s really pretty decent when you get used to it,” or “It’s not true what they say about what goes on in here; at least it’s not as bad as people make out.”

         But the hesitation in his voice and the darkness in his eyes tell her more than she wants to know. When she’s preparing to leave he shakes his head and tells her he doesn’t know how he’ll ever do it.

         “Twenty years is a long sentence,” she admits to him, and it really hits her then just how long—nearly a generation, nearly his lifetime to that point. She sulks a moment before rallying her thoughts and casting a positive spin, “But you’re eligible for parole well before that.”

         Her encouragement doesn’t rub off.


         This predicament in which she finds herself brings frequent twinges of guilt. Not that she regrets her past action, only the end result. She doesn’t have a lying bone in her body, so when her brother asked if the black eye was caused by her fiancé, she spilled forth the facts. What happened next was beyond her control.

Roland Goity lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and edits fiction for the online journal LITnIMAGE (www.litnimage.com). His stories appear in dozens of literary publications, including Fiction International, Underground Voices, Bryant Literary Review, Talking River, decomP, Eclectica, and Scrivener Creative Review.

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