Tent Stitching//Leslie Maxwell

          I am sitting at a table in a kitchen that I do not remember, talking to a man I do not remember being in a relationship with.


          “Where should we move?” he says. I look at the unfamiliar needlepoint hanging on the wall, also unfamiliar, behind him. It is a still life with an apple, an orange, and a banana. I try to remember eating oranges. I remember that they have to be peeled. I look at his eyes. They are kind eyes, deep brown, with long eyelashes and eyebrows stitched from heavy, dark yarn above them. They are looking at me with what I understand to be concern.


          I do not remember his name. I would like to ask him his name. Instead, I say, “I don’t want to live in the city.” I say this because I believe he wants to live in the city. I am hoping that at some point, he will forget that he is in a relationship with me.


          “What if we lived in the country?” he says, even though I believe he wants to live in the city. I wonder if I am anywhere near as kind as he seems. “Yes, let’s live in the country,” he says. I see him imagine grass and lawn mowers, deer, gardens and fences, rocking chairs and porches.


          “The country,” I say. I repeat it to see if I remember being in a relationship with him. He thinks I am agreeing to live in the country. He smiles. I close my eyes. My mouth fills with the bitter taste of orange peel.

Leslie Maxwell’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Blunderbuss Magazine, The Fourth River, Juked, and decomP magazinE, among other publications. She lives in Durham, N.C., where she teaches writing to both college students and community members. She is a graduate of the MFA program at George Mason University in Virginia. Find her online at lesliemaxwell.com