A Child Shall Lead

In 2020, as foretold in the Bible, the lion lay down with the lamb. Potentially bringing peace to the United States, Congress gave the vote to citizens 16 years and older. The bill also permits presidential candidates as young as 21. Taken together, these measures promise change in a country that has been divided for too long.

In other news, under indictment for fulfilling a campaign promise to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, President Trump will not seek re-election.

Citing the biblical injunction that, “a child shall lead them,” the remaining adult in the room, Mike Pence, won’t run either.

Poaching

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Lambs are eating the wet sheets from the line when we return from a rambling hike through country lanes. They’ve pushed through the fence. They ignore shooing movements. Seven of them seem to be communicating via Bluetooth. As soon as one backs away, another takes it’s place.

We don’t reason with them. Four abreast we move like a wave, banging pots and wooden spoons, hoping to get them through the hole where they came in. They make noise, a bleating chorus. We expect the farmer who rented us the cottage will come to see if we’re poaching. No such luck.

Trusted Lion

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A lion stands guard over the wooden blocks. He’s a trusted friend, that lion. Never locked away in the zoo with the others, he might well hold the key to the city. At night, he sleeps in a child’s bed, curled close enough to catch the drool of sleep. His ear has been chewed and his fur is matted where he’s been loved too much. He never goes in the washer. It would ruin him, ruin the smell that makes him special, sog the stuffing so he wouldn’t dry in time get to work. Who would keep things safe, then?

Mountain Lions

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Mountain lions have been sighted in the foothills. Scrolling through the updates online, she notes the spotting was in the vicinity where her son is on a nature ramble. The familiar feeling of dread fills her as she remembers hundreds of times she’s been wrong to worry. But what if she’s right this time?

She fills the kettle. She brews chamomile tea. If she grills him when he gets home, the next time he’ll deny he’s hiking. Or say nothing. Out, later, nobody. When he comes back, she won’t breathe a word. It’s better to think about it that way.

Coda Last

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He lifted his drink, tipping it to get the last drops. “Another?”

She nodded.

He signaled, one sagging digit held in the air. He walked to the bar in a reflective mood.

When he returned he said, “It was my fault.”

She was hopelessly intrigued. “Why say that?.”

“Doesn’t it change things? An apology.”

With an eyebrow arced, she passed a cherry to him. She bit into an orange slice, sending juice down her chin and catching the drips on her finger.

“I never know what you mean,” he said.

She snorted. “Why now, why apologize?”

Coda 2

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She smiled at the waitress. “A whiskey sour, please.” A youngish woman took the order, her short skirt stretched over lean legs.

  He looked up. “Bourbon, neat.”

  He surveyed her ass as she motored towards the back, where the Happy Hour crowd filled wooden barstools. Picking up empties, she glided past banks of booths arranged in tight lines on either side of adobe tiled floors. When she reached the midway point between the entrance and the end, he remembered who he’d come with. 

 Touching his ex-wife’s scented wrist with the palm of his hand, he asked how she’d been.

Coda

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He stood close to the mortuary exit. He thought she might change her mind. Mourning doves called, cooing in short and long bursts of flutelike music, cooling the dry warmth of the afternoon. She arrived carrying a vase, then dumped water into a hedge and tossed the flowers into a trash bin. The bouquet was large, composed of scentless yellow roses, blue irises, and red tulips. They were filled with sorrow dripping from broken stems, the way that funeral arrangements are. He imagined his longing for her upended like the discarded green spikes.