Here in the Dark Beside You
I hesitated in the candlelight in front of the locked metal gate seven hundred and fifty feet underground. The cave was slightly warmer than the inside of a refrigerator and smelled of mildew and the earthy scent of bat guano. As I inhaled the cool, moist air I glanced around me at the dark rock walls. My fiancé Andrew waited beside me, listening to the gray-haired park ranger give our small group last minute safety instructions. At the end of his speech, the ranger mentioned a story about a kidnapping in the cavern. Four armed men held several people captive for hours near the spot where we stood. Had I paid better attention, I would have heard him say this crime occurred in 1979. I was, however, busy calculating how long the candle in my lantern would burn before it left me in the dark.
The Changing Room
The scar on my breast is a dark reddish brown, fading slowly at the edges. It is curved, like a parenthesis. There is a slight indentation, a flat spot under the blemish that shows when I stand in profile. The scar is hidden, even by my most revealing bathing suit. Most of the time I don’t even think about it, except when I’m undressed.
Mae Emery returned, as she had each year since childhood, to her Aunt Judy’s orchard. The sultry dog days of summer gripped Pennsylvania, but Mae couldn’t get warm. She wrapped her body in bulky sweaters and stiff jeans, clad her feet in heavy boots. Workman’s clothes.