That old expression about the fox in the henhouse, she’d woken up thinking those words. Everywhere, the fog was thicker than where she stood on the rocky shoreline. The hissing and fizzing of the ocean below could beguile, and did. News reports lately of elaborate missions with helicopters to retrieve the bodies. Yesterday in the courtroom, when she’d taken her daughter’s hand in hers, the hot flesh and bones, a primal circuitry fired in her brain. Her girl’s hand, a young woman’s burning soft hand. How long since her girl had been touched in comfort? Her daughter tolerated but moments, her hand going limp as if to make clear it was being held captive, and soon strained to be released—a sudden need to search through her purse. The purse, turquoise blue, big as a canyon, they’d shopped for it together the day before. That’s what she could do: buy her daughter a pocketbook. Cavernous and mostly empty. But she knew the bag would fill quickly. Oh so rapidly. In the courtroom, only one more ending swept away when the judge ordered the girl’s husband to prison. The tide would come rushing back in. Spindrift hidden under fog. Unseen creatures on their silent feet, doing what they must.
Peg Alford Pursell is the author of Show Her a Flower, A Bird, A Shadow, a collection of fiction and hybrid prose featured in Poets & Writers magazine's second annual 5 over 50 (November 2017). Her work has appeared in Permafrost, the Los Angeles Review, Joyland Magazine, and other journals and anthologies. She is the founder and director of the national reading series Why There Are Words and of WTAW Press.