Moss of the Indefinite
Ophelia sat in her window seat and peered out into the overgrown forest that was her backyard. It was a late afternoon in December and the snow had all been washed away by an unexpected streak of rain. The downpour let up and all was unnervingly silent. She hadn’t yet bothered to turn on the lights in the house, despite the growing darkness of the outside. The empty cottage was greyer than usual with that late afternoon, gloomy winter glow.
Outside, western hemlocks were weighed down with moss. Ferns swayed provocatively as a hint of wind wafted through. Ophelia had been gazing out that window for longer than projected. An unintentional meditation. The aperture of her eyes drew into a clearer focus when she noticed a doe about 100 yards away, appearing to be making direct eye contact with her, despite the distance and thick glass between them. She felt her hand rise from her linen pants and touch the chilled window, as she let out an involuntary sigh that fogged the glass. She reached out to the deer, but it continued on its stroll. A single tear paused on Ophelia’s high cheekbone before she wiped it away hostilely.
She picked herself up and went to the bathroom. Her wad of toilet paper was stained crimson. She wasn’t sure if it were normal to still be bleeding over a week after the procedure. She flushed it away. Put on her knee-length, puffy parka. Brought in firewood from the shed. Built a fire. Drew a bath. Stripped down in dim candlelight. Took a long look at herself. It was the eve of her fifty-second birthday. She was a widowed lesbian who had pathetic drunken sex with a man for the first time since high school and had somehow ended up pregnant with a child she did not want. Before she was certain that she would go through with the abortion, she imagined what her life would look like. Still grieving Ana. Rigid routine—everyday the same, before and after the classes she taught at the nearby arts college. She imagined being mistaken for the child’s grandmother, if she would have even made it to term, that is. She could see herself, seventy-years-old, clapping her arthritic fingers together at her child’s high school graduation.
She and Ana had always been enough for each other. They never wanted children. Ophelia had the abortion, knowing it was the best decision for her, but hadn’t expected to feel even lonelier than ever before, in the days following. She felt old.
The warm water rose as she lowered herself into the claw foot tub. Her grey-speckled black hair was clipped atop her head. Her face, chest, and hands were covered in sun damage and liver spots that told stories. She could see her reflection in the handle of the tub. The heat of the bath water and the growing warmth of the fireplace overwhelmed her senses. She got out before even wetting her washcloth, overheated. She wasn’t even in the mood to bring her detachable showerhead in between her legs.
Ophelia lay naked on the cool stone floor of the now even darker bathroom of her cottage in the woods and realized that she had pushed or forcibly removed everyone in her life away. The only one who she wanted was gone. She couldn’t get that Christopher McCandless quote out of her mind—“Happiness only real when shared.”
She stood up, feeling her body breathing and working, as the pounding of her pulse filled her head. She walked through the shadowy house, feeling her way to the door. She opened it, not bothering to close it behind her, and strode outside. She felt the damp soil of the ground on the bottoms of her bare feet. She felt the increasing intensity of the wind lifting goose bumps across her body, hardening her nipples. She felt a trickle of blood slowly swimming down her inner thigh, smearing with each step. She opened her palms in front of her, in the dwindling light of the forest. An inaudible question to the universe that words could not circumscribe. Ophelia didn’t have any answers. She opened her eyes to a sky lit with constellations. Deceased leaves rustled. The doe stood still to Ophelia’s side. They stood in the midst of the mother earth who slowed for no one. Divine feminine energy. They stood not knowing what was or wasn’t or what would happen next.
Savannah Slone is a queer writer who earned her B.A. in English: Professional and Creative Writing from Central Washington University and is completing her M.F.A. in Writing at Lindenwood University. Her poetry and short fiction has appeared in or will soon appear in Manastash Literary Arts Magazine, Creative Colloquy, Heavy Feather Review, Boston Accent Lit, PaperFox Lit Mag, The Stray Branch, and The Airgonaut. Savannah lives in Skykomish, WA, where she works a handful of part-time jobs and cares for her toddler with autism. She enjoys reading, writing, knitting, and hiking.