When it was happening I was alone. I didn’t think of my wife, of how her and I suspected she was pregnant (she wasn’t, but by the time the period came we’d both said a brace of big ugly honest things that had made the other think, These big ugly honest things you’ve said are who you Really Are, when really the big ugly honest things were only who we’d clubbed each other into becoming for a one-month spell inside a six-year spell that up until then had us living on Logan Boulevard in Logan Square thinking we’d be local, organic, and happy right up until we died blissful simultaneous deaths in the final scene of the epic film of our active old age, or at least that’s how I remember it out loud when I apologize, and when I see my ring on my finger in a mirror, and when I slam dishwasher drawers and shout, Listen! You aren’t listening!), and I didn’t think of my pray-hard mother, who expected me and my wife for dinner, for our family’s weekly Family Dinner Night in the house I grew up in in Downer’s Grove, homemade raviolis, and I didn’t think of my brother who didn’t at the time go to our family’s weekly Family Dinner Nights because he was way away in another state (Texas) with a woman we all liked (she liked him) and he for some reason didn’t, a woman he’d tried for four years to trick himself into thinking he liked so that he could trick himself into thinking he loved, despite how he felt compelled to act in front of her in front of us, despite every big ugly honest thing I ever said to him when we were so deep in drinking at the Map Room that we with old-timey wind-ups pitched each others’ phones at the wall, and I didn’t think of my dad who was dead, six years dead, dead and in the dead place where if I died there in the Loop in my car alone (which it looked like I would) I’d be too, doing this probably, and I didn’t think of my dopey dingdong stepdad who to this day doesn’t know how to think of anybody other than my mother, which we should appreciate but don’t. No. What I thought of was the other day I’d nearly died. The other day wasn’t much like the day that made me think of it, I think. The other day had only a little bit of something pinched inside it. But it was long. Because it was long and you were in it, in it like the little bit of something, you were made to laugh at yourself, or at yourself laughing. It was the kind of day that made you think that thinking about the things that mattered was what mattered.
JOSEPH SCAPELLATO was born in the suburbs of Chicago and earned his MFA in Fiction at New Mexico State University. His work appears in Kenyon Review Online, Third Coast, Unsaid, Harper Perennial’s anthology Forty Stories, and other places.