To minimize the awkwardness, he’ll make her excuses to his parents on Christmas Day.
There isn’t much to divide: she keeps the futon, he the food dehydrator and dry fryer.
They laugh about his weakness for TV pitches.
Lastly, they exchange gifts—sunglasses for her, and for him a soft, sad flannel shirt.
Pistol the black lab, ponderous and greying at the muzzle, hovers anxiously. Outside, dusk descends, a chilly haze among naked, beseeching treetops.
“Sure gets dark early now.” She bends to light the fire, her back an exquisite curve of memory down which he suddenly tumbles, her hair a canopy of flickering gold enclosing all the warmth in the world, abandoning him to the icy void. She retreats into shadow, her disembodied voice issuing already from the past, beyond reach.
“I guess this is it then.”
“I guess,” he says and turns away, hoisting his pack.
Linda Boroff graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in English and currently lives and works in Silicon Valley. Her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in many publications, including McSweeney’s, Crack the Spine, and The Pedestal Magazine. She was nominated for a 2016 Pushcart Prize for fiction and won first prize in the Writing Place fiction competition. Her short story “Light Fingers” is under option to director Brad Furman and Sony.