The aroma of concha her mother swore she wouldn’t bake met Jesse in the driveway.
She found the woman tucked into her corner of the living room; chipped white mug, Burnt Sienna lipstick stain, steaming black Bustelo. Sighs and sniffles from a sunny source at last. She found her strolling down memory lane past the friends, outfits, phases that had ebbed and flowed. Missing front teeth. Pet turtle. Cap, gown, honor cords.
A few of the photos were out of focus. The woman’s vision blurred again; rivulets mapped her cheek, slithering like state lines en route to her heartbeat. Greener pastures on the golden horizon; warm hugs via WhatsApp.
She found her mother reeling; proud and powerless against turning tides. “Mija! ” she sighed, misty-eyed in the new doctor’s embrace.
“I am happy for you…
(sips soy latte)
The city’s rough, you know …
(large mouthful of salad, again)
but that’s great babe…”
According to her best friend, also an oncologist, between swallows and road rage when the sought after residency came up.
Her heart was a knot as she fell into the driver’s seat, half zipped bags across the crammed passenger side. Swooping birds pranced in the saffron sunset; looping memories landed on their last scene – his set jaw, thin voice. The man she left hurting circa sophomore meltdown. She pictured that one arched eyebrow as he scanned tumbling thoughts from familiar digits. “Random much”, she chided herself, resting her cell phone in the cup holder.
The phone vibrated as the seatbelt clicked; she snatched it up with both hands to see his reply: “When do you get here? I should…”
Lights had come on along the honeysuckle scented streets. The car roared to life as she slowly turned the key; a soft smile twisted her lips.
Nikki is a multimedia journalist and writer. Her work appears in The Citron Review, Ellipsiszine, Sublunary Review, LEON Literary Review, Literary Yard and is forthcoming in HOOT and PreeLit. She munches trail mix and takes stunning photos when not busy writing.