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FICTION


The men with work boots slam their thick fists on the bar, and the lake ripples and expands, while the loose ties chuck peanut shells at the widescreen. The refs always favor the other team.


She was only there because you were


thinking about her. About her and the baby he refuses to see. Your niece looks just like your sister and your mother calls you every other day so you can talk to her. She knows your voice and screams happily into the phone while pushing buttons, even though you can count on one hand the number of times you’ve seen her. You started saving your pennies for her. You put them in a coffee can with a slot cut in the lid, like the banks you and your sister used to make as kids, except without the paint.


You don’t drink coffee but your last


girlfriend did, two spoons of honey and no creamer. She left half a can when she decided you weren’t cultured enough. She got tired of your white socks. You left the coffee in the cupboard just like you left her toothbrush in the cup and her half used bar of Ivory in the shower.


You were trying to figure out if you


would rather live without heat or a week’s worth of groceries when your sister called and told you that she was pregnant and engaged. You sent her a fifty dollar check and the biggest box of diapers you could find. You were thinking about changing the pillowcase of the pillow your girlfriend used to sleep on when your sister called


15


and told you that it wasn’t his and they were getting a divorce. That’s when you started saving your change. You kept the coins on your side table next to a copy of Byron and a glass of water until it looked like a sea of glowing buttons. When you could no longer grab your water or Byron without a shower of coins, you started searching the cupboards for a jar. You could only find the coffee can. You stood over the trash for minutes. Your hands felt cold and slick and when you took a breath and dumped the coffee out like fine, black sand, you felt something hot run down your face and decided it was sweat.


Someone scores a touchdown and the bar cheers loudly. Jordan is balancing a tray of three beers thick with foam while someone tucks a bill down into her shirt. She is why you save coffee cans full of pennies, because even though she has all of her teeth and grownup hair, she reminds you of your niece. You don’t want your niece to be her-- intelligent, broke, surrounded by smoke so thick it yellows her skin like wallpaper. You don’t want her to have to lean forward just a little bit extra while the wide screen blares and the loudest man at the bar explains to the ten year old why Brett Favre is God.


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