The earthquake doesn’t wake Maeve, but it’s a big one, so Wendy changes out of her sweats and into her librarian clothes because of course Principal Tannen’s going to call her into work. She’s a single mother so he knows he has her where he wants her, and it’s just one more fucking day that she wants to drive off a cliff. When she gets outside, her heel catches something on the sidewalk and a maternal instinct kicks in making her spin herself upside down, protecting Maeve by landing on her back. There she is on the ground not dead, her little one just cooing and giggling. And when the little aftershock comes it’s like God rocking them to sleep, and then she’s weeping with a kind of joy, sure for the first time she can remember that she doesn’t ever want to drive off a cliff.
John Brantingham is the first poet laureate of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park in California. His work has been featured in hundreds of magazines and in Writer’s Almanac and The Best Small Fictions 2016. He has eight books of poetry and fiction, including The Green of Sunset from Moon Tide Press. He teaches at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Ca.