Five Fictions
Lorna Perez

After Work

At just before five on a Thursday afternoon, the woman and her son cross a gray parking lot under foreboding summer storms. He in jeans and denim jacket, and she in practical office clothes, walk hand and hand as he swings loops around her laughing through the lot on their way to the practical station wagon ride home. From the window above, I watch them get in, imagine they will talk about what is for dinner tonight -- maybe green beans with chicken, the boy wrinkling his nose at the beans, the woman watching from the rearview -- her boy buckles up, and they drive off, a construction paper flower conspicuous on the dash.

On Leibniz and Spinoza

The woman sits typing away on her laptop. Passing joggers ask the man at the table next for the time. He reads his watch incorrectly. He comments to her, by way of introduction, that he feels bad but time is relative anyway. He is reading philosophy. She comments on Kant; he mentions Spinoza. He asserts it is Leibniz. She corrects him. He counters that he is sure it is Spinoza. She quotes the Leibniz from memory. He tells her she doesn't look like the kind of girl who would ever know the difference.

You Could Be Anything

At the Italian grocery where they went to buy bread, the owner insisted on giving the little girl a banana. Italians like small children. The father insisted on paying. The owner refused. He asked, so are you Spanish? Well, yes, Hispanic he explained. She, pointing to his darker wife, she looks Spanish, but you, you could be anything. You could even be Italian! The man chuckles. The peel goes straight to the trash.

Most Evenings

She let's herself in with the key he leaves in the mailbox. Winter has set in. She unlocks the door, balancing warm food in Tupperware for his dinner. Catches her image in the glass. . .sweat pants past glamour she thinks, and those pounds that won't seem to go away. He is in bed watching movies. She settles in next to his extravagance: the too-large, too-strong body; the too-familiar smell of his skin; the too-tired ferocity of understatement: the maybe, possibly, too-tired kind of love.

I Do

She reduced her life to this, a soft computer glow and clicking away in those silent hours after everyone else has long left the building. Framed photos of smiling friends on her shelves. Emails from her siblings. Plans for drinks with boring folks on Friday. The unframed degrees in the left hand drawer of the nicest desk and the nicest office in the building. She puts on tea and tries not to think of the ring long-gone from her finger, and the day marked in June on the calendar.