Michael O’Neill

Last Call

I’ve seen the place where they buried you.

Well not you, per se, but there was a casket with your things scattered in it and a funeral with your name on the envelopes. They placed sandbags in your coffin to weigh it down. Your mother had your wedding dress laid in there.

I call that you.

It’s what’s left of you at least. They named it you, so I’ll do that as well. How cruel it was that you never got a last goodbye – even prisoners get a last meal.

Where was your final act? Your great departure? Your disappearance?

I run my hand along the limbs of trees and press my nose to the weeds waiting for you to surface, like a garden snake rising from the butt of a shovel or a yellow bird finding the strength in its black lungs to perch back atop its stoop. If I had a cage to keep you in, I would.

I still hear the echoes of your coming and going, the sound of your footsteps pattering down the hallway outside our bedroom, a coffee in your hand.

The dishes don’t get cleaned anymore.

I count the fingerprints on your mug, wrap my hand around its body, curl my fingers through its handle, make my grip your grip, then walk down the hall and grab the knob to the bedroom door.

I turn and I turn and I turn.


Michael O’Neill is a fiction and poetry writer residing in Chicago. His work has appeared in Literary Orphans, WhiskeyPaper, the Journal of Microliterature, Unbroken Journal and Great Lakes Review, among others.