You were everywhere that summer, summer of the research lab, summer of the white coat, summer when I learned how energy can move through the air unnoticed. I thought it sounded a lot like love, the way something you cannot see can take hold of your body, can seep into your cells. I never said the word, but my body knew. Each weekend, as I left my job and drove toward the city we’d picked from the map, my skin would quicken, even the air on it too much some days. Calculations were my distraction: if two cars leave two different cities at the same time and drive toward each other, how soon will they meet? To answer, you must know what separates them. To answer, you must know how fast each party is moving. I never knew these things, never knew how to predict when I would find you. I only knew that I must find you, knew the number of hours we had was finite, no more than fifty-six per weekend. I remember how each Monday I left you, sleeping, and drove straight to the lab. I remember the comfort of ritual, how I donned my white coat and unclipped the badge from its left breast pocket, how I reported to the technicians for clearance to work another week. I never understood just how the device functioned, though I loved the sound of it: thermoluminescent dosimeter. Each Monday, I fumbled for caffeine while technicians hovered over my badge, measuring the amount of light emanating from the space near my heart. Each week, they assured me the risks were minimal, said I hadn’t yet gotten too close.
Elizabeth Wade holds degrees from Davidson College and the University of Alabama. She divides her time between Virginia (where she teaches at the University of Mary Washington) and New York (where she works in curriculum development). Her work has appeared in Kenyon Review Online, AGNI, The Oxford American, and others.
Terry Wright is a writer and artist who lives in Little Rock, Arkansas. His art has been widely exhibited and has appeared in numerous journals and venues, including Potion, Pure Francis, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Sliver of Stone, Third Wednesday, and USA Today. Terry believes his sunrise can beat up yours. (website)