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"Meredith" by Zach Keali’i Murphy

Each night, Meredith places her husband’s blue terry cloth robe next to her in the bed. Before she

turns off the dusty bedside lamp and drifts into her dreams, she drapes the robe’s fraying sleeve

across her body, hoping to feel a faint embrace, if just for a second. When she wakes in the

morning, sometimes she smells the aroma of dark roast coffee wafting into her bedroom. As she

journeys downstairs, the steps creek like her bones. She looks into the kitchen and it’s always

empty. Maybe the aroma has lingered in the tattered walls. The walls hold a lot of history. Or

maybe the aroma has lingered in her head. Her head holds a lot of memories. She keeps the

windows closed during the day, even when the temperatures are sultry. This makes it easier to

feel a desperate breeze. The house is over a century old, so she knows it’s no stranger to drafts.

At dinner, she swears she sees the tablecloth move every once in a while, especially on the nights

when she cooks her husband’s most cherished meal of beef stroganoff, garlic potatoes, and red

peppers. She knows that your eyes can play tricks on you, but she’d rather not blame her

cataracts. After the sun sets, the same routine begins again. Moving forward is even harder when

you want to be haunted by the past. As Meredith lies in bed, the moonlight shines through the

cracked blinds, casting a glow upon the face of the clock on the wall. She stares at the clock’s

second hand as it ticks, ticks, ticks. She takes a deep sigh and the hand stops.

Zach Keali’i Murphy is a Hawaii-born writer with a background in cinema. His stories appear in Reed Magazine, The Coachella Review, Raritan Quarterly, Another Chicago Magazine, and more. He has published the chapbooks Tiny Universes (Selcouth Station Press) and If We Keep Moving (Ghost City Press). He lives with his wonderful wife, Kelly, in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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