Honey dripped from her son’s chubby fingers as clouds hung low over the mountains visible from the back porch of their new house. The sun, Molly noticed as she folded down Sebastian’s collar, had turned his hair a pretty shade of gold. Blond didn’t run in her family—she, like her mother, was known for her dark brown curls—so the color was something magical, something magnetic, though not strong enough to keep David around. He’d left nearly five months ago, stopped calling. Five weeks had passed since Sebastian had given up asking for his father, since Molly had noticed that he had David’s nose and had cried fresh tears about his disappearance, since Sebastian had started first grade and had forgotten about Daddy because he’d made new friends.
Their friends from high school, those who had escaped pregnancy, had lured David away from their tiny Colorado town. He was God knows where, far from anything she knew. David feared the familiar, the routine—Molly realized this, after hearing the low moan of the dial tone again, some five months ago. Call, and call, and call—she called David, she called their friends—but she never got through to him. She learned that her expectations were dangerous. She exchanged the expecting for long afternoons and quiet, pleasant evenings with their son.
Sebastian smiled up at her, wiping his sticky hands on a napkin, and she smiled back. David used to smile at her like that. She always smiled back, but it never felt right on her face, not when she knew her son and his father probably might never meet again, might never get to notice their resemblances for themselves.
Molly was good at noticing resemblances. Sebastian liked to eat honey and peanut butter sandwiches before bed, like David; when he was irritated, Sebastian picked at his fingernails, like she did. When she noticed these things, she tried to remember her new memories with Sebastian, and those filled the gaps.
Her son announced that he was ready for bed and led the way inside, upstairs. After he had brushed his teeth and washed his hands and fallen asleep, Molly went downstairs, where house-warming presents and birthday gifts were still strewn about the living room. Their move to this place a week ago had coincided with her twenty-third birthday. She tried her best to avoid the loneliness of the names on the cards: With Much Love, To Molly & Sebastian. Molly hadn’t put them away because Sebastian liked to read them, but David’s absence from them made her sad in a quiet, dire way. When she thought of David, she felt a gaping hole open up in her stomach that sucked on her organs and pulled on her skin so it sagged. She had only felt this way once before, while Sebastian was still inside her, and knew it was her future tugging on her, aging her. She knew she would grow old without David.
In high school, before Sebastian, when David had still called her “honey,” Molly had known how to call him back from anywhere, even the deepest recesses of his mind. Their problems were simpler then, but she had delighted in knowing him like that. Cheering him had made flowers bloom in the center of her chest, but she knew that couldn’t happen anymore. She didn’t know him the same way.
Molly began to wander about the house. She eyed the various cards and presents, and then decided she would make herself a cup of tea. The phone rang in the kitchen. She ran to pick it up before it woke Sebastian.
She felt her eyes sting and her chest curl into a fist when she heard David’s voice on the line saying, “Hi, honey.”
Jenna Danoy is a senior Writing, Literature & Publishing major at Emerson College. In addition to reading for Emerson Review and Gauge Magazine, Jenna has published short fiction in Concrete’s 2013-2014 print edition and an original stage play in THREAD Magazine. She is currently working on the beginning of a novel for her BFA creative thesis, and is fascinated by gothic literature. This is her second flash-fiction piece published in Concrete’s online section.