Fiction from Elizabeth Peterson
It was supposed to be romantic, this hike along the high bluffs of the St. Croix river, a celebration of our engagement, a picnic of wine and cheese, marking the beginning of our lives together, a life with dogs and kids, bills and mortgages, birthdays and anniversaries, fights and make-up sex, of skinned knees and first days of school, of graduations and grandchildren, sickness and health and rocking chairs on the front
porch, of valentines and the question Do you still love me after all these years?—not this ripping of roots, this tearing of ground that sent me backwards, twisting through the air like some suddenly hooked fish trying to free itself from a steel barb and an invisible thread, not this spin and fall, this ricocheting of flesh and bone, this bare skin scraping past tree bark, this downward tear of grass and branches slipping through my hands, this sudden, unexpected thrust of free flight, sailing above the river like a kite that’s lost its way, not this moment of inevitability and calm and broken dreams dashed against these upward rushing rocks—not this abrupt, spine rattling landing on this thin ledge still 60 feet above the river, this bright white moment of pain, this final memory of my nerves—or you, who took the long way down, asking: Can you feel your toes?
Elizabeth Peterson completed her MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts in July 1997. Her work has been published in several small literary journals. She was the winner of the 1987 Phi Theta Kappa National Competition in Creative Writing and has been a finalist for the Loft Mentor Series Competition (1996-1997), Hunger Mountain’s Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize (2005), and the Montana Prize in Fiction (2014). She currently lives in Boston, MA with her Golden Retriever, Riley. Ms. Peterson works as a freelance writer and teaches at Bay State College.