She and Dave sat in his rental car in a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot after close. He mentioned he’d been seeing his ex again, and she asked if it’d gotten weird yet.
She told him about the graduate schools she was applying for, and how they were all over the place. If she were him, she said, she would’ve taken the job offer in Portland. He said part of him still regrets it, but he feels safer in West Virginia. He feels safer seeing his same ex-girlfriend, in his same hometown.
The location of the meeting was strange, but only because it was urgent. He’d called her the other night after her short story was published — the one about her little sister slowly eating one pill after the other. He said it hit him. She said she was sorry for the hit, and yet, somewhere in her mind, a wicked writer crouched, and felt good about having an impact on someone. She shook off the guilt from that fairly easily. He said it hit him, because if there were just a button you could push, and be gone forever, he would have pushed it by now. She told him a lot of people would be gone, herself and her sister included.
Work had been slow, he told her. For hours he would sit at his desk with nothing to do, so to fill that space he’d started making origami paper cranes. She laughed, of course, but he looked at her very seriously, explaining that after you’ve made a thousand of them, you’re supposed to get one wish. So far, he told her, he has 134 in his desk drawer, and he has to hide them from his boss.
And who, she asked, would give him that wish? The thousandth crane?
He laughed, but looked forward, slightly somber. Yes, he said, then he frowned. The thousandth crane will grant my wish.
Katie Quinnelly is a climbing instructor in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Her work has appeared in the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Ginger Collect, Occulum, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, and Moonchild Magazine. She regularly reads her poetry to unwilling listeners in local bars.