The ginger tea had gone bitter. Joe didn’t mind. He slurped it while it was still hot and waited for Gagin, who would arrive exactly one minute early, as expected, wearing his team jersey as though this were a game. Joe stood and pulled out a chair for his old friend. “You already order?” Gagin asked. “Nah, just tea.” Gagin called over the waitress and ordered a triple-pig with a side salad. Joe didn’t want anything. “So what’s up with that fucking bank?” Gagin asked, referring to the partially constructed credit union across the street. The finish date had been pushed back five times, and the once-golden two-by-fours were covered in graffiti. Joe shrugged. “I want to talk about Madeleine,” he said. Gagin nodded. “Yeah, your little girl. She still working at the lab?” Joe swigged his final gulp of tea. “She wants in.” “Yeah, right.” “She’s got Casey now,” Joe said. “‘Nothing more boring than a new mom,’ she says. She doesn’t want to be that lady talking about how her kid put her hand in some soup or the toilet bowl or whatever.” “Yeah? Has she lost her mind?” Joe stayed quiet. Gagin’s salad arrived and he pushed it away. Eventually, Joe said, “Yeah, probably. She’s got a bunch of poems.” The men smelled the triple-pig coming. “Well,” Gagin said, grinning, “can’t stop her, can we? Hardly role models.” Joe smiled, suddenly shy. “I’ll read ‘em,” he said. “I’ll buy ‘em.”
Kelly Dolejsi is a climbing instructor with an MFA from Emerson College. Her work has been published in Mom Egg Review, Mothers Always Write, Trickster, Santa Fe Literary Review, and Bitter Oleander. She also has poems forthcoming in Denver Quarterly.