Broken promises, unanswered questions, hopes too fragile to be shared, ten thousand moldy compromises, a mortgage on a house that was neither too big nor small but certainly not right, all the entrees he hadn’t ordered because she wouldn’t eat them but always wanted to share plates. Coffee cups left on the counter, dirty dishes fermenting in the sink, the car keys she could never find. The clothes she bought him that never fit. All that and more he shoved into the canvas duffel. The compressed fury of the seething mass heated the brass zipper to glowing as he yanked it closed. He stood, wrenched the bag onto his back, and staggered outside, across the yard, and down the steps he’d hacked out of the pine-choked hillside to the heaving boards of the dock they’d built together in happier times. He stumbled, fell to his knees. Momentum dragged the bag forward over his head, the zipper scorching a trail through his thinning hair before the bag ripped itself free from his grasp and plunged through the still air like a dying bird, crashed into the lake, and unleashed a great tower of steam and water as it disappeared. Unweighted, he breathed in, breathed out. The waters stilled. A fish rose to the surface. A second. He knelt, mute, on the moldering dock as scores of fish bobbed to the surface, silent and dead, their eyes dull, their pale, distended bellies turned to the sky.

I need a new backpack

Hoping to backpack the Andes next year. Please help.
If you liked this, you might like Stop Transmission.

Photo by Jim Latham