Last year, when the oil company began drilling the sandstone in the back pasture next door, I trekked out there in my slow and painful way.
Leaning on the fence, the moment stretched, like when I had first met Janice so long ago, two women stopped side-by-side at a traffic light: her in her Honda coupe, me on my motorbike. Our eyes on each other, while the light turned green and cars behind us honked their horns.
Like then, I should have leaned over and said, “I won’t stop until you stop.” Fair warning of my intentions in love and war.
But, like then, I just said, “Hey.”
Last spring, when the fracking made tiny seismic tremors that shivered Janice’s face-down picture right off my nightstand, shattering the glass into tiny diamonds on the floor, it was like when Janice’s friends held an intervention in our living room, four years gone now, making her shudder and weep, telling her my progressive arthritis would eventually break her. I should have said, “Nothing can shake me loose.”
Like then, I only said, “They must know what they’re doing.” Then I swept the floor clean of the mess they’d made.
When the dropping water table turned the spring grasslands golden yellow, I ventured over the parched fields, each step a crackling horror, feeling the heat radiate like Janice’s fury the day she had thrown a research paper at me, shouting about the miracles of fish oil. Inconclusive clinical trials for pain relief, it said, yet she wanted me to drink endless spoonfuls. Throat too dry for speech, I thought, “One spark can cause an inferno.”
Like then, I hugged myself, elbows searing hot, and stopped making fire metaphors in my mind, whispering so only I could hear: “I’ll get through this.”
Holly Schofield’s stories have appeared in Lightspeed, Crossed Genres, and Tesseracts.