Nothing by Pamela Hill

Sleek, grey smoke rises from the cigarette between Norma’s fingers as a calico purrs against her. She reclines in a paisley chaise lounge next to the window, loosens her hair from clips, and sips merlot that flows from crystal. Looking out a window at fireflies flashing through trees under a crescent moon, she remembers fire glinting on a dune and the Woodstock guy from the past when he and she had nada to lose. He said he went to Woodstock, said he was a believer—in free love. She smiles a little. She remembers a Provincetown concert near the ocean when Woodstock guy’s hair drifted in the breeze. They kept each other warm when rock bands rocked and wine flowed from plastic.

She misplaced Woodstock guy’s name when her jeans turned to suits, dunes to desk, plastic to crystal. She wanders to the kitchen pantry and fumbles through stacks of china and gourmet serving dishes until she finds a plastic cup, and with her unsteady hand dumps merlot from crystal to plastic.

Next morning she watches a sparrow from her office window dance on a branch covered with detritivore growth. The breeze spins a brittle leaf clinging to a spider’s silk strand. She and the sparrow have a secret camaraderie as Joplin’s voice echoes from long ago, “nothing don’t mean nothing honey if it ain’t free,” and the dead leaf spins to chords only she can hear.


Pamela Hill’s fiction and poetry have appeared in Ping Pong Poetry Journal, Thrush Poetry Journal, Counterexample Poetics, The Camel Saloon, and other journals.

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