This snap fiction story (what’s that?) got its start when I snapped a picture of an apartment building, brightly lit against the night sky.

Safe Passage

She hadn’t known what to write. Looking over her shoulder one last time, she saw the familiar matrix of lights, and it took her less than a second to pinpoint the single bulb that had marked the entrance to her door for so long. Too long. She knew why she was leaving, she knew why she hadn’t said anything, she knew what she was giving up, and she knew what was in her coat pocket. But she hadn’t known what to write.

Marcie under­stood that sometimes love wasn’t enough. Some things couldn’t be fixed. But leaving without a word… it still felt—wrong. Impolite. Improper. Bad manners. Which made no sense whatsoever, and she knew it. If there was an etiquette to saving your skin, she clearly hadn’t read the book.

Maybe he’d find the failed attempts that she’d torn off the notepad and thrown in the trash.

Dear…” That’s as far as she got on the first one, and right away she knew it was wrong. Not dear. Not anymore. No more excuses.

I have to…” had been number two. But some things go without saying when you’ve already emptied your drawers and left the key on the bedside table.

I hope you…” was her third and last attempt. Sure, she hoped. She’d always done that. But she’d stopped caring. Indifference, it turns out, is more powerful than love.

She’d stared at the blank notepad for minutes, pondering version four, until her father had gently placed his hand on her shoulder. It’s time. She’d turned around only to find that all her stuff had already been carried out to the elevator. Team Marcie to the rescue. So this was it. This is what it’d been. It hadn’t been enough. It’s okay if you don’t know what to say.

Dad had been the only one who was stalwart in his support of her ambiva­lence. The rest had given up much earlier, counseled her to get out, scolded her for supporting a bad thing. But Dad knew the decision had to be hers. He’d stuck it out with her even when he didn’t agree with her. You’re going to be okay. Both of you. She hoped he was right.

As her father had taken her arm, leading her out, she tried not to flinch. But the bruises were still too sore.

Now, on the back seat of the car, Marcie turned to look ahead again, leaving the apartment and its history to recede into the distance. Next stop: the airport. You’ve got your ticket, right?

She fumbled in her coat pocket, meaning to take out the plane ticket. But what she held was the other piece of paper. The sonogram. Seeing it made her cry, and made her adore Dad even more. She leaned over and hugged him through the pain.

Thank you.”

As it turns out, Marcie thought, she had known what to write. Nothing was exactly enough.

• • •




Father, son, husband, friend and writer by day; asleep by night. Happily pondering the immortality of the crab wherever words are shared.

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