Wednesdays we go for counseling in a new white brick building designed by an architect. Every detail has been planned so that patients can come and go in private. A white brick wall hides the parking lot from the street. A grove of wax myrtles frames the entryway, a long, covered walk along the building’s edge, bordered on one side by a trellis of flowering vines—jasmine, to calm. The therapist’s waiting room is accessible only through this breezeway.
Not a breezeway, my husband says. A breezeway connects two structures. This doesn’t. This, he says, is a portico.
Portico: a concealed, fragrant tunnel, immaculate except for thin black tire marks on the concrete. From a bicycle, I’m guessing.
“No,” my husband says, and makes his exasperated sound, the sound of him loving me even less. “From delivery dollies.” He can turn even a word like dollies into something sharp and mean.
I’m sure he’s right. He always is.
But I picture a girl on a bicycle, racing down from the parking lot, skidding past the therapist’s door, exuberant, wheeeeeeeeeee!, all the way to where the concrete ends. Doing it again and again until her mother calls her home. A blue bike with a wire basket and bright plastic streamers on the handlebars. The girl’s eyes blue and daring, full of wonder. Not believing her luck at discovering this hidden paradise, this cool flat slab, this sweet-smelling shade in the middle of summer. For her, per lei!
Every Wednesday, all spring and all summer, there are fresh tire marks. “Look,” I always say, as if to prove some point. My husband only shrugs. I hate it when he shrugs. There’s nothing I hate more. There ought to be a law against indifference. Lock up all the husbands who go to therapy just to humor their wives.
One Wednesday in late August I ask the therapist. “Those marks in your breezeway, are they from delivery dollies?”
The therapist looks surprised. My husband looks surprised. I don’t usually ask the questions. I don’t usually want to know the answers.
“Children,” the therapist says. “I have to scare them off.”
Kim Church just released her debut novel, BYRD, (Dzanc Books) in March. Her stories and poems have appeared in Shenandoah, Mississippi Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and elsewhere. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has received fiction fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Millay Colony for the Arts, and Vermont Studio Center. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Read our interview with Kim here.