when we went away you had a cat in a crate on your lap, another in a cat pouch above that, the other two in the backseat, and we had to fit all we could in a 2013 Volkswagen Passat, which is actually surprisingly roomy, but not roomy enough to fit everything we had in that falling-apart house to make the 716.4 miles in one trip, and so a sizeable portion of our belongings just stayed in that house while we went away for good, and you had gluten free provisions for the road but I had to make stops along the way for salt and sugar, caffeine and empty calories, and Bitty got sick so we had to manage that the best we could, and my shoulder was tightening in that same old tic, the one I developed long before we went away but had kicked, or thought I kicked, but the thing about obsessive compulsive disorder is good luck kicking tics for good, and when we got out on the open road the cats were mostly fine but before then it was a choir of concerned meowling with designated solos that they were respectful about switching out for, and we were saying it was going to be okay, ostensibly to them, and before we went away I’d put the house key in an envelope addressed to the slumlord and stamped it with forever, and then it was off and into the postal system, wouldn’t reach its destination till days after we’d reached ours, and it was hours of shifting and ticcing, and the babies fell asleep, and you fell asleep, and the entirety of our life was in that car, and we’d just left our home and were heading to family, to stay a little while before finding a place of our own, and I’d been up early enough before the going away that, loading our life into the car, the dew was coming through my shoes on the grass-trips back and forth, and I think for me it had to be a series of mechanical operations undertaken in methodical order because if not that then it was starting our lives entirely over 716.4 miles away from where they’d been for the last almost-four years, which, hindsight, but here in the telling the hind can’t be sighted, so I’d catch swatches of you on the drive, see the light play against your face in streetlight-passing, the main character-ness of the moment not yet hitting, so when we went away but really a little before it, when you insisted we’d lived in your home state for a while so it was time to live in mine, I don’t think I could ever put enough words together, one after another, to thank you, because you knew I would’ve just kept hitting my head against the wall, again and again, so you figured it’d be easier to knock the damn wall down.
Nick Olson (he/they) is the author of the novels Here’s Waldo and The Brother We Share and is the Editor-in-Chief of (mac)ro(mic). His third novel, Afterglow, will release in June of 2022. A Best Small Fictions nominee, finalist for Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Award, and 2021 Wigleaf longlister in and from Chicagoland, he’s been published in SmokeLong Quarterly, Hobart, Fiction Southeast, and other fine places. Find him online at nickolsonbooks.com or on Twitter @nickolsonbooks.