Gail Louise Siegel ~ Betrayed


The harp sits in the cor­ner gath­er­ing dust, ever since Petra’s dog Maisy got spooked by rustling in the corn­field. A pos­sum? A snake? Petra had reached down to calm the mar­ble-eyed wolf-shep­ard mix she’d cod­dled from a pup, and lost of a chunk of fin­ger in a fren­zy of growls, barks, lunges, snap­ping jaws.

The dri­ve to the hos­pi­tal dragged in slow motion, Petra squint­ing through the grimy wind­shield, blurred by tears and pain. She sobbed at the rail­road cross­ing, wal­ing “Mama,” though Mama was dead ten years, dead before Petra’s first pub­lic harp con­cert, her con­tract with the Symphony, her first solo CD.

An E/R nurse with glass­es sway­ing from a blue macraméé chain gave Petra a choice between orange and apple juice while they wait­ed for the hand sur­geon to dri­ve from Ladysmith. Would Maisy still be in the corn­field, slaver­ing, wild blue eyes dart­ing? The near­est neigh­bor was a quar­ter mile off, twin tod­dlers in an unfenced yard. Petra called her broth­er, choked out the sto­ry, then dozed under her coat and a paper blanket.

She woke to a low voice mut­ter­ing about grafts, joints and ten­dons to the same, patient nurse. The doc­tor pre­tend­ed the injec­tion would­n’t hurt. “A pinch,” he lied. “A tweak.”

But now, no worse anguish than an evening alone, with no Maisy for com­fort, watch­ing the harp lean against the wall, fac­ing away from Petra as if they both had been betrayed. She strains to pic­ture it frame by frame: tilt­ing the harp and swivel­ing into posi­tion; embrac­ing it in her arms.


Gail Louise Siegel’s work has appeared in dozens of jour­nals and antholo­gies, from Ascent, Elm Leaves and FRiGG, to Matter Press, New World Writing and Story Quarterly. She has an MFA from Bennington College and lives in Evanston, Illinois.