by Michael Cocchiarale

Yoga, juice bar, farmers’ market. A fine day, more or less, until Resa braked for the light at Edgemont. First in line, she found herself facing Buried Treasures, the antique store across the road. In the years since moving here, she’d tried countless times to get her mother to visit, using (among other tactics) a detailed description of the charming front porch to entice her. The ruddy sea captain lantern swinging from outstretched hand. The cherry-red Vespa. Elegant ladies in antique cigarette signs. But Mom didn’t drive. Wouldn’t train or bus. Fly? ‘Are you kidding?’ she coughed. Did Resa think she wanted to die?

Well, she was dead now. And Resa might have made it through the day without dwelling had the red not stopped her. Last week, with her awkward, soon-to-be ex, she’d ventured inside. He lumbered toward kitchenware. She closed her eyes around pedestal ashtrays to a table of postcards from a century ago. ‘In New York. Tomorrow we cross!’ said one with an otherworldly rendering of Niagara Falls. There was another—the Liberty Bell, with its lovely scar. ‘Dear Mother,’ wrote Elaine to Robert Archambeau of Clarion, PA. ‘Hard to believe: today we’re off to Europe!’ Resa’s eyes burned from all these spiraling, smoky words of the dead.

The ex loomed. ‘For our future home,’ he declared, holding out a spice rack as if she were the wall on which it would hang.

‘Mom had one just like it,’ she said. Hers, though, held only two bottles: one for salt, the other for nothing at all.

A beep from behind. Resa, startled, crawled back out of her thoughts. The light—another senseless brute—had decided to turn green at last. Longer, insistent sounds made it clear she was supposed to just step on the gas now and go.

Michael Cocchiarale is the author of two short story collections–Still Time (Fomite, 2012) and Here Is Ware (Fomite, 2018)–as well as the novel None of the Above (Unsolicited, 2019). His most recent work may be found online in journals such as Fiction Kitchen BerlinSleet MagazineUnlikely Stories Mark V, and Fictive Dream