6 A.M.

Gay Degani

At the breakfast table, she shifts her chair to the left, angles her body away. He reads Plaschke in the Times, his hair the gray of her favorite scarf, lost now for two or three years. She remembers that scarf. How it settled comfortably on her neck, feathery soft, like breath. The sheen of it seemed enchanted, changing with the navy of her dress from gray to almost blue, with her red coat, becoming silver. She glances at him again, hidden behind newsprint and wonders if she were to turn her drawers upside down on the bed, she could find that rectangle of shiny wool.

She sighs, turns back to her Sudoku. More empty squares than full ones. She works the numbers, circling, filling in the obvious.

Monday puzzles, she keeps everything neat, her goal to have no extra marks in the boxes, no false starts, nothing covered in white-out. Tuesdays too, but it grows harder.

By Friday, she keeps her guesses tiny, miniature 2s, 3s, 4s, her 7s crossed through European style so she doesn’t mix them up with the 2s. Still the sloppy white-outs increase, the paper tears, the numbers bleed together.  She swaps her glasses, tightens her teeth, and steadies her extra-fine Pilot pen, her husband’s breathing slow and even at the end of the table.

Gay Degani has published in anthologies including The Best of Every Day Fiction 2008. Her stories can be read at The Battered Suitcase, Night Train, 3 A.M, and elsewhere online. She is the editor of EDF’s Flash Fiction Chronicles.


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