Small and High-Up

Small and High-Up
by Leesa Cross-Smith


Composing an email to him that I will not send: William, I would save the buttons that come in those tiny plastic bags attached to your new dress shirts. Take pleasure in releasing the pins from the collar and turn it over to unpin the back, hearing the paper crinkle inside. I want to tell William how much I love his ears. They are small and high-up. I want to grab them and gently twist like I am opening a can of something. When I'm having an awful day, being in your presence lifts me like a little puff of air that keeps a feather from falling to the floor. I am embarrassed to tell you about the sadness I feel when I consider all the land in every city in every country in every world that is set aside to bury the dead. How the thought of it warms my face as if I've just opened the oven door; that heat—fervid, orange-pulsing and stealing breath.


I can see our future farmhouse kitchen where I am soaking the rosemary garlic bread with extra-virgin olive oil. I gather the plum tomatoes we grow in our backyard, hammock them heavy in the hem of my sundress; staining the fabric with rainwater and dirt and rainwater and dirt and rainwater and dirt. I smell my hands before washing the tomatoes under the hard-shh-flow of our kitchen sink. Before dropping them into the rolling, bubbling boil to soften and swell before I smash them between my fingers. William smells like green glass bottles, William smells like August wind. After dinner, I will tie my long hair back with a thick, slick ribbon. He and I will sit on the porch and drink and talk about how full we are. How we ate too much how could we eat that much why do we always do this. His black coffee, my ginger tea and lemon because I am pregnant with his lemon-sized baby and the ginger helps the nausea.


William, let me tell you how I feel (small and high-up!) when I look at your cuffed cerulean shirt sleeves, the expensive, slippery-silver watch sliding over your wrist bones. I wonder about alllll of your pale yellow bones and if your father ever fought in a war. I daydream about a time when you will make my entire body feel like an ear, like a fallen eyelash; a fingertip, pointing. I turn on my computer, open a blank email to him. Go stand in front of the refrigerator. Hold a full silver and gold can of caffeine-free Diet Coke to my cheek, to the back of my neck. William, you are so long. So tall. Like a monster, but not scary. I promise that if you were my man, I'd let you make every part of me feel like a mouth. William, don't you want to make me feel like a mouth?

Leesa Cross-Smith is the author of Every Kiss A War (Mojave River Press) and the editor of WhiskeyPaper. Her writing can be found in The Best Small Fictions 2015, and lots of literary magazines. She lives in Kentucky and loves baseball and musicals. Find more at