Luke Wortley


My son asks me why I’m so obsessed with my father. His face a gleaming moon in the evening air as we sit on the back porch drinking lemonade. Mine with bourbon. All the ice melted. I don’t know, I say. Fireflies around us dancing constellations. Yes you do, he says. The honest truth is that I don’t know. We haven’t spoken in seven years, not since my son was born. Maybe it’s the strange occurrences on the way, the gliding exhalation of my breath laced with liquor, perhaps even just the uncanny bond of fatherhood, even from such a distance marked by time. I walk over to him, bend down to his eye level, and pull him into a hug. Between us pressure, an unknowable want surfacing in my chest, a balloon of regret and need. Then he’s choking, sputtering, coughing, disengaging from our embrace. A bouquet of orchids erupts from his mouth and settles wetly on the deck as he heaves in relief. Inside, I hear my wife singing as she cuts up a particularly fragrant onion. I look at my son, who looks back at me, down at the orchids, and laughs the most beautiful laugh.


I noticed that my tumbler glasses in my cabinet have all started to disappear. One by one, they’re gone. Next, the spoons go, and then our shot glasses, followed by all the supply of lemonade at the grocery store. On the news, there’s a global lemon shortage, interviews with silverware makers. They seem to have no memory of spoons whatsoever. But the tumbler glasses story never airs. After the tumblers are gone, our coffee cups vanish as well. I wonder how my father would deal with the crisis, as he was always poised in the recliner on the edge of sleep, his own tumbler filled with bourbon and lemonade tilting in his worn hands. The lilting scent of his cocktail playing in the roof of my own mouth. His jerking nods as he tried to avoid falling into darkness for the night, the ice melting silently. Grunts leaking out of his throat. My mother gently prying the tumbler from his grip and holding her breath.