By Denton Loving
Turn the fan on, she said.
It was hot. Sweat ran down in a line back of her ear. Made me want to touch it. I switched the fan on high, and the blades went ‘round and ‘round. The whirl made you think there was more air than you could feel.
Then I sat back down as close as I could get and not touch her or that line of sweat that seeped down her neck. She gave me one of those looks, like I should have sat on the other side of the room or gone back out to the hot, June sun so she could be on her own. It was a look that made me think she did not want me at all. Then her eyes set on the far wall like I had done left. I willed her to look at me. I hung on the turn of her head. I thought she would shift back to me, but she was like a mule, and I said, you’re a damned mule, and I’m sick of you and your bad mood and this damn heat. Get up, I said, let’s go to the creek and cool off.
I thought she would stay in front of the fan to spite me. Then, just when I chose to give up on her mule head to sit on a good, cold creek rock, to shed my shoes and cool my feet off, she came.
The door slammed as she stomped down the stairs. She passed me on her way. She was still mad, but I knew that cool creek would calm her down. I knew when she was done with her mule act, I’d reach for that place on her neck where the sweat ran. If it was still there, I’d wipe it away. She’d twist her face to me, and if she’d smile, I’d know we would get through this and be fine.