This wasn’t supposed to be fun. We were moving our lives, not taking a road trip. But you had to stop and snap a picture of every polyp, stand before the World’s Largest Lodged Corn Kernel, just to say you saw it, witness the gold-gloss skin of this mired giant. It could fill the space between us—the humming gearshift, your skirt hem blotted in yellow stains, because you had to visit the tapeworm petting zoo, appetites larger than every piece of dusty furniture in my truck bed. Everything gets swallowed here. Every last piece of us evaporates. And now where will we sleep? Where will you hide your diary, stow your threadbare underwear old as teenage children? Your underwear is gone, as is your diary, each secret sentence digested down to meaningless letters, even the serifs snapping away. I read your secrets, took notes in a similarly secret diary. My words tracking your words are also lost now. But I remember: You said you’d disappear if I couldn’t stop being so serious, so determined not to laugh at all we’ve lost. An empty truck bed in the rear-view, tires spinning in slosh, nothing but knotted, red small intestine walls out the window, unobstructed by you and your stained skirt and digested secrets, because you jumped at the last town, tucked and rolled, gave up on leaving by leaving me.
Dustin M. Hoffman is the author of the story collection One-Hundred-Knuckled Fist, winner of the 2015 Prairie Schooner Book Prize. He spent ten years painting houses in Michigan before getting his MFA from Bowling Green State University and his PhD from Western Michigan University. His stories have recently appeared in Pleiades, Smokelong Quarterly, Bat City Review, Juked, Cimarron Review, The Journal, and The Threepenny Review. He is an assistant professor of creative writing at Winthrop University in South Carolina. You can visit his site here: http://dustinmhoffman.com/
Photo by Richard P J Lambert