ARDOR Literary Magazine

ARDOR Literary Magazine - Issue Three, September 2013

Issue One, Published January 2013

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Page 9 of 109

ISN'T BUT A LITTLE THING Fiction by Reid Douglass Dan called in sick the day after Mara lost her voice. He figured they had plenty of subs, and besides, the baseball season was over. Mara was staying home, too, so he acted like he was going to work and instead drove down Old Woodward Road along the railroad tracks and parked at the edge of the limestone quarry. Dan's old high school girlfriend Julie, now an English teacher at his school, always called it Solomon's Quarry, but he wasn't ever really sure what she meant by that. It had always been interesting to him, the quarry, the way they haul out chunks of limestone that have been down there since before there was a word for it or even someone to give it a word. Limestone runs underneath just about everything in town. He and Mara couldn't build a swimming pool, for example, because it was too expensive to dig through it. Chunks of limestone jut out and form the cliffs all around the lake, too. He stood at the rim of the quarry and watched the arms of hydraulic excavators claw up caliche and yellow clay while wheel loaders hauled slabs of the blank rock and loaded them into trucks, and it gave him a feeling of he didn't know what. Of the great weight, maybe, and of just how easily it all could crush a person. It wasn't that Mara had gone hoarse. She could make some noises, but not words, so when she tried to speak, nothing would come out. This was the second time she had lost her voice. The first time it happened was ten years ago and she was already in the hospital. A couple of doctors examined her vocal chords and lungs, but they said there wasn't anything wrong with her, not that they could see. When she lost her voice this time, the last word Dan remembered her saying was, "Don't." "Ten," Dan had said. "Seems like a big one, doesn't it?" "Yes," she said. "I don't know why it should feel any different than nine or eight." Mara didn't say anything. She blinked without looking at him. It seemed like it had been a long time since either of them had thought about the boy. Or at least since Dan had. "Sometimes I think I can picture him," Dan said. "Like what he would look like now." Mara sighed. "I don't know how to respond to that." "What would he be like, do you think?" She said, "Dan," and Dan said, "I'm just—" and she said, "Please," and then Dan could see her big eyes well up, and she said, "Don't." That was that. The words left her again. The first time it happened, the last thing she had said was, "What's wrong? What's wrong with him?" *** After he left the quarry, Dan took Main Street to the little league fields and parked on the gravel lot and went and stood by the bleachers. In the outfield grass, ovals were worn to dirt. Nearby, a rusted gate creaked open and shut. He went into the dugout and sat on the bench. A dry breeze blew through, (cont. on next page)

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