“Coterminous lives plotted on parallel lines and projected back into the past might be said to have come together.”
On the November day it all fell to pieces, in the long tunnel toward spring, the sky turned dark at four-thirty. The temperature was in the sixties, unusual for the eastern face of the Olympic Mountains. The warmth made Maria restless, and she shook Dylan, the big golden retriever, from his bed, pulled on her heavy boots, and set off walking.
At the foot of the road, beneath a giant cedar, Maria’s mother stood alone.
“I can’t find Daddy,” Flor said. Maria took her mother’s hand, but Flor pulled away. “I don’t like Daddy using the chain saw alone,” Flor said. “Now I can’t find him.”
Maria cupped her palms behind her ears like a choral singer checking to see if she was on key. “Wolf ears, Mama,” she said. “The way you taught me.” And in the distance, Maria caught the whine of the chain saw. “I know just where he is.” Maria tugged her mother’s thin wrist. “Walk up the mountain with me, and we’ll meet him on the other side.”
When they reached the crest of the hill where mock orange and Pacific rhododendron formed a thicket, a path veered off into the forest. Maria’s father, Pete, stood among the remnants of a willow toppled by the first autumn storm. The logs were bucked into fireplace-sized pieces, neatly stacked and ready to be lugged home.
“Where were you?” he said plaintively to Flor. “I was looking for you.” As always, Pete ignored Maria. Since Maria separated from her husband the previous June, Maria’s father looked right through her, or walked out of the room when she came in.
“You abandoned a dying man,” he said before the fast of silence began. No point to say Paul was the one who left.
See the full story Coterminous Lives by Kirie Pedersen on page 152 in Ginosko Review (pdf)