Gillis gives a last long look at Melissa
Francine Witte
Tapis Winner
 He is about to lose her to Smith, who has made her the usual promises of love and devotion.

Gillis has heard of these things all of his life. He read about love in story books. And devotion always seemed to take up so much time.  

He casts a side glance at Smith, who is approaching Melissa with flowers and candy.  Maybe this is love, Gillis is thinking. Something visible like a tree.

As Melissa waves her dying leaf hand at Gillis, he wishes he wanted to stop her. He feels a faint flutter in his chestcave. He looks straight up at the ceiling. Smith doesn’t have my money, my power, he is thinking, and yet he makes her smile in a way I’ve never seen.

He thinks way back to his mother. Going off for the afternoon. Be a big boy, she would tell him. Not like your father. Stand up tall, or you’ll end up another scrubby little bush.

He looks at Smith, at Melissa, as they shuttle couple-like out the door. Leaving a trail of flower petals and candy wrappers. He feels the itch of another inner ring that is right now growing around the stone that is his heart.

First published: November 2016
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