Alicia pulled over at her ex’s house to allow the storm time to pass. They were not-unwillingly stranded in the darkness, submerged in a pile of greasy pizza boxes and crushed beer cans. Rain pounded the roof in violent sheets. He lit emergency candles and crafted a pallet of old, musty comforters that felt like quicksand. Alicia had wanted him to take her that night. Instead, they stroked each other’s hair and ate rum-raisin ice cream.

She awoke to him smashing a bag of whole-bean coffee with a hammer and promised to buy him an electric grinder the next time she was in town. One day, I’d like to make you the best cup of coffee you’ve ever tasted, she thought. Alicia hopped onto the edge of the kitchen counter, wrapping her thick legs around his waist, feeling his downy-soft scruff across her cheek.

“I think I’ll move to Savannah and open a bed and breakfast. For women who need a fresh start,” she said. “Maybe you could go back to school, have more options.”

He was already heading back to the living room for a day of gaming. “Do you think ants can have caffeine?” she yelled after him, watching a procession of black specks march toward the cracked coffee beans on the floor. Through the window, she noticed uprooted trees and her car’s smashed windshield.

Alicia’s phone vibrated, the screen briefly illuminated by her husband’s name. He asked if she’d made it to her mother’s house safely during the storm.

“I did,” she whispered, mostly to herself, feeling a lump form in her throat. “We’re fine. Just fine.” She placed her phone on the counter, opened the kitchen door, and followed the line of ants into the wreckage.

Ashley McCurry

Ashley McCurry (she/her) is a contributing editor for Cream Scene Carnival and staff reader for Okay Donkey literary magazine. Her most recent work appears in Sky Island Journal, Five Minutes, Heimat Review, and Flash Flood Journal. Her work recently received an Honorable Mention award in the Scribes Prize microfiction competition, with additional stories longlisted in the 2023 Bath Flash Fiction and Brilliant Flash Fiction writing contests.

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