Don’t Go Home

Lydia Gwyn

August 15, 2023

I once lived in a blue house with a yard full of sandy soil and a neighborhood hurricane siren. Arborvitae by the front door. My roommate’s daughter’s chunky sneakers in the hall. Unshelled moon, white as chalk in a summer sky.

My boyfriend’s voice whispered on the other end of the phone at night talking me to sleep. How I imagined him there with me in the bed, his hand on my thigh or my kneecap. Don’t go home, I said. Stay with me. We’d been together—long distance—for over a year.

I understood this setting of trees and yard and Gerard Azaleas taller than the house. I understood humidity so thick it was like breathing underwater. I understood I would marry my boyfriend after I skipped out on the doctorate program, and I would move back up to Tennessee.

I felt like a warrior about to return home.

But there was one night back then, when I sat with my roommate and her little daughter on their side of the blue house, and we watched Star Trek. It was the original series, an episode full of optical illusions and beings who weren’t really there.

That night, we heard the sound of tires squealing to a stop. There were voices in the yard. We parted the blinds, peeked out, and saw a woman running from a minivan, which was parked by our mailbox, half in our yard. She was running toward our front door. A man got out of the driver’s seat and chased after her.

He caught her by her ponytail and spun her face around to him. We watched him punch her nose and drag her back to the car. There were kids in the backseats looking out the rolled down windows. They were screaming, crying.

The man dragged the woman to the passenger seat, pushed her in, slammed the door, and drove away. Everything unfolded in less than ten seconds.

We called the police. We gave a description, but it was night, and we weren’t sure if the van was silver or gray or white. We weren’t sure how many children were in the car, nor the exact color of the woman’s hair. We gave a vague description of the man, which may or may not have been accurate. After a few minutes, my roommate’s daughter said, Did that really happen? I watched out the window with the phone in my hand.

About Lydia Gwyn

Lydia Gwyn is the author of the flash fiction collections You’ll Never Find Another (2021, Matter Press) and Tiny Doors (2018, Another New Calligraphy). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in F(r)iction, Midway Journal, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Florida Review, New World Writing Quarterly, and others. She lives with her family in East Tennessee.

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