All the Women
Then she came to the secret campsite—always abandoned whenever she’d arrive. Her running route was the same each morning. Down the road away from her home, and when the road ran out of shoulder she’d run through the meadow under the transmission towers where red-tailed hawks perched and watched. The campsite was a floral blanket in the grass among the jewelweed and asters. There was a case-less pillow with ticking that reminded her of a child’s pair of railroad overalls. There was a bar of soap and a jug of green mouthwash and a couple of Hustler magazines. All the women in there were sun-faded, the shadows and posed ecstasy lifted from their faces. She knew because she sometimes flipped through the pages.
She would always think back to her childhood friend Tracy and the day they found her father’s stash of Penthouses mixed in with his bodybuilding magazines. The pages of tanned women with their spray of blonde hair and frosted pink lipstick seemed interchangeable with the oiled-up muscle men, and all of them wrestled in her mind that night as she lay in the sleeping bag on the basement floor watching goldfish float in a tank and Tracy’s sleeping face glow in the aquarium light. She tried staring into the walls, into the black outlets and imagining what wires and lines and connectors might run behind the sheet rock, and she pulsed and pulsed herself while the parted lips of glossy women and the hands and tongues of men flashed in her mind. She thought she might be lifting out of herself and rising to the ceiling.
After she ran down the hill and into the parking lot, she saw a dragonfly had landed on her car. At home she stepped onto the front porch, the floor and steps of which were decorated with the drawings her children had made using the sidewalk chalk in their Easter baskets. There were orange suns and blue clouds. Her son had just learned their phone number and had written it everywhere. She opened the front door to the smell of microwaved burritos. Somewhere inside, her husband cut a folded tortilla with the edge of a fork.
Lydia Copeland Gwyn’s stories and poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the Florida Review, Appalachian Heritage, Elm Leaves Journal, Glimmer Train, SmokeLong Quarterly, and others. She lives with her husband and two children in East Tennessee where she teaches English and works in a public library.