top of page

"Kiss Them Goodbye" by Ken Derry

He turned into the lot and parked in the back where the trees offered privacy and he backed in so the view to the building’s entrance was clear. He engaged the emergency brake and cut the motor and he turned to her but said nothing. She looked forward. The entrance doors spread open and a man emerged from the darkness pushing a woman in a wheelchair to a car that was already waiting at the curb. 

“She looks like hell,” she said.

“She’s alive.”

She unbuckled her seatbelt and ran her hands through her hair and pulled a band from her wrist and pulled her hair through the band. She put her head in her hands and slumped forward. Her ribs quivered as if a sob might come or was already there but suppressed but she shot up and exposed her face. Thin tears streaked shallow grooves around her eyes, rounding over her cheeks. She belted out a laugh.

“At least this way maybe I get to keep this!”

She whipped her ponytail back and forth then stopped to wipe her nose.

“They said this is your best chance,” he said.

She propped her elbow on the window frame. With her fingertips, she massaged her forehead.

The windows were beginning to frost. She made a fist and pressed the side of her hand to the glass then put three dots above the print.

“Dog,” she said. She contemplated then added another dot. “There,” she said. “Dog.”

She settled against the headrest. The man stiffened.

“You’re going to be okay,” he said. “I’ll be with you the whole time.”

“Not the whole time.”

“I’ll be there when you wake up, is what I mean. I’ll stay with you as long as you need.”

She leaned over the center console and shimmied to the backseat. 

“Come sit with me .”

He unbuckled. He climbed into the back. She straddled his legs.

“Do you remember the first time I let you touch them?”

“Of course,” he said. The words had a different way of coming out now that he was

smiling. “I can’t remember if it was the first or second date.” “Excuse me!” she said and she slapped his shoulder. “It was at least the third. We might’ve been dating a month by then. Didn’t even let you do it yet.”

“But you let me touch them by the front steps to your apartment,” he said.

He slid his hands under her shirt. She jumped.

“Sorry,” he said.

“They’re freezing.”

He cupped his hands to his lips and blew. He rubbed his hands as if washing them at the sink. Then he placed them back under her shirt. 

“Better,” she said.

His hands rose and stopped on her breasts. He paused a moment, gave a light squeeze, then lifted her bra and smiled as they fell out. She reached behind and unclipped the bra herself. She unbuttoned her shirt and opened the front.

“Kiss them goodbye,” she said.

The pleather flexed beneath them and with it time, when life was young like the seasons, like spring when the world is blooming with hope and color and the sun is there to shine on it all and bring you out of the darkness and help you feel safe and warm but the seasons had changed, the sky was gray and the sun would not warm today.

He looked up. Hair clung to her cheeks. He made to move his hands to clear away her hair but she stopped him, pressed his hands to her one last time.

“Will this change anything? How you feel?”

“Of course not.”

“It will,” she said. “Of course it will change everything.”

He searched for something to say. 

She climbed off him and fixed her clothes. 

“We’ll be all right,” he said. “We’ll get through it.”

She reset her ponytail. She put her hand on the doorlatch. Her chest expanded. Her nostril whined.She held her breath and closed her eyes and opened the door.

The air was full of sound.


bottom of page