To a Time I Thought Would Break Me by Lauren Woods

This is a love letter to a seven-hundred square foot apartment, to the bedroom with the bunk for you two and the full bed for me we called the dormitory, to waking up with two little bodies tucked into the curve of my stomach, just the way I once held each of you. This is a love letter to the rushed mornings, to the tears and threats, to every time I said, “Get, get, go,” to the way I started pointing when that wasn’t enough, to the times you told me I was mean and I said I sometimes had to be double mean. This is a love letter to the first time you two fought so badly after your baths you brought me to real tears and I wrapped you in white towels like caterpillars in cocoons and carried you one at a time to my bed and then wrapped the three of us together like that inside the white comforter, and we rolled around and bumped against each other like pinballs, and your laughter made my ears ring. This is a letter to the soft, cool, frog-belly feel of your post-bath skin. This is a love letter to the time I gave you a journal and you told me you were afraid of a fire and that I wouldn’t be there to pull you out. And when I said I’d run into the fire to get you, you cried happy tears for the first time. I don’t know if that makes it a love letter, maybe it’s not the kind of letter that goes on paper, maybe it’s flag of surrender maybe it’s a list of regrets, maybe a confession. Maybe it’s the speed with which I would maim myself to save you, maybe it’s my fear that still wouldn’t be enough, maybe this is all a pale reflection of the way you two looked at me from under the covers, your mouths stretched expectantly into open grins.

Lauren Woods is a Virginia-based writer, with fiction and CNF in over a dozen literary journals, including The Antioch Review, The Offing, Wasafiri, Lunch Ticket, and others. Last year, her work was nominated for Best Small Fictions.