Back to Issue Forty-One

For What May Still Be There



He does not look at himself in the mirror. He runs down the stairs, looks at the cat following him, then runs back up the stairs to get his keys.

He searches the table. On the kitchen counter. Knocks against furniture.

He slams the door as the cat watches him, thinking of her and the cat in bed in the afternoon light.

He opens the umbrella, but he cannot run with it open. He runs.

His hair is wet.

Figures move in the fog. Dogs. Blurry shapes. Runners in the rain.

She had said how she always wanted a dog. She cried when the adoption agency rejected them.

She had said she wanted more hikes, more time in nature.

The rain gurgles in the gutters.

The smell of wet earth, gasoline.

What was he doing before he got this call? He was on the phone with someone from work. He doesn’t remember who it was or what that call was about.

He remembers the last time it’d happened. He’d been with her that time.

Her face pressed against the asphalt, purple. Her look unfamiliar.

They repeated her name. The voice on the phone asked him to describe what he couldn’t.

Try, Sir.

She is seizing. She is breathing.

Her eyes are closed. Now her eyes are open.

There was a puddle beside her body.

He remembers her other looks.

Her handing him a bag of marbles.

The pomegranates on her tongue.

The smell of pine in the room. Papers in her backpack crumbled and wet.

At the intersection, he looks for lights flashing, for what may still be there.

The ambulance has already taken her away.

He looks at the car trunk she has filled with vegetables. Meat. A watermelon. Grapefruits. Paper towels.

You sure you’re okay to drive by yourself? someone asks him.

He drives the car back home while waiting for a call from the hospital.

He carries the groceries back into the house, puts them in the sink. He turns on the tap. He drops dish soap into the sink.

He wipes the counter, puts everything that he has cleaned on the table. He puts all the bags back in the cabinet.

He opens the fridge, stares at the cold tea she has brewed.

His shoulders shudder.

The cat hears his noise, comes close. When he tries to hold him, the cat hisses.


One day he will tell her all of this, how he’d run out into the street in the rain, how the cat had hissed. They will talk about what had happened to them. He will tell her how he’d waved at her from the street when she was behind the hospital windows. They may laugh at what has passed or they will just cry, until gradually they all forget it.


Babak Lakghomi is the author of Floating Notes (Tyrant Books, 2018) and South (forthcoming from Dundurn Press, 2023). His work has appeared American Short Fiction, NOON, Ninth Letter, Green Mountains Review, and New York Tyrant Magazine, among others, and has been translated into Italian and Farsi. Babak was born in Tehran, Iran, and currently lives in Toronto, Canada.

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