by Jacqueline Doyle

There’s no reason that I—a perfectly sane and healthy 42-year-old woman—shouldn’t be sitting outdoors on a park bench on such a nice spring day. Well, almost spring—early March. Almost nice. It’s not raining exactly, not like it was earlier, more like heavy mist in the air. I’m not exactly comfortable. The bench is wet and hard, there’s cold water trickling down the back of my neck, the park smells strongly of dog shit, I’m starting to shiver, but no one in the passing cars, no one hurrying by on foot knows that I’ve been sitting here for four hours staring at the door across the street. Why would I be? Why indeed. Because I’m waiting for that asshole to come out of his house so I can pretend that I’m just here by chance. Resting on a bench in this lovely park during a long walk. He knows I’ve always liked this park—the flowering cherry trees, the rows of two-story brick houses on the surrounding streets, the Georgian architecture, the tidy front yards. We haven’t spoken since the breakup. We spoke during the breakup, of course, but I figure he would want to know how I’m doing, since he probably misses me, and I’d like to know how he’s doing. He blocked me on Facebook when we broke up and must regret that now. I’m guessing he’s lonely. He isn’t the type to meet women easily, he was lucky to find me, and I did everything for him, everything. I made his bed. I cooked dinners and breakfasts. I packed his lunch. I did his laundry. I even ironed his shirts. In fact I can’t imagine how he’s managing without me. He’s the shy type, probably afraid to call, and he told me not to call him, but running into each other casually like this should be fine. Is he home? The living room curtains are closed and I don’t see any lights, but he works from home on Fridays and it’s early in the day for lights. He can’t stay inside all day. He has to come out of the house, doesn’t he? I took a sick day. I can wait. For one thing, I want to know why he has a statue of the Virgin Mary in his front yard. I’m sure it wasn’t there before and it’s not exactly his style. A despairing conversion? A gift from a friend? A new girlfriend who’s Catholic? Jesus. He has to stop letting women take over his life, putting their lawn ornaments in his front yard and God knows what else. I hope she hasn’t changed the living room, taken away those throw pillows I bought. Not that I give a damn. The Virgin Mary tells me she has bad taste. Doesn’t he get that? I’m just waiting.

Jacqueline Doyle’s flash fiction chapbook The Missing Girl is available from Black Lawrence Press. She is a previous contributor to Fictive Dream, with recent flash fiction in CRAFT, Juked, Ghost Parachute, and Pithead Chapel. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and can be found online at and on twitter @doylejacq.