Two Fictions
Elizabeth Ellen

Sixteen Miles Outside of Phoenix

and if you want to talk pride, baby boy, I'd just as soon punch you in the gut. if you'd planned on bringing me to my knees with a word like cadence you should probably quit the business right now.

Panama City By Daylight

My daughter was in the tub. This was Tuesday: bath day. I had a far off look on my face. My body was in the bathroom, kneeled, before her. My mind was somewhere else: Memphis, maybe, or Moscow. "You're falling out of love with him, aren't you?" she asked. And by "him" she of course meant "you." "No," I said. "There are ebbs and flows in relationships. This is a time of ebb. That's all." "You're not a very good girlfriend," she said, before submerging herself under water. She was practicing holding her breath. I was supposed to be counting the seconds.
You asked me the same question last week. You said, "You seem distant." Which was your version of "you don't love me as much anymore, do you?"
I was in Hattiesburg then but I didn't admit so.
"No," I said. "I'm right here."
I offered you a weak smile and dove into the pool. I floated to the bottom and made a tidy home on the floor. I turned on my side like I do in bed with you. I closed my eyes, slowed my breathing. I can stay down here a long time, I thought. I was halfway to Tallahassee already. I planned on making Panama City by daylight.