A Midwestern Goodbye

By Will Musgrove

“Welp,” Friend One said, slapping his dining room table.

 Friend One stood. His chair squeaked across the linoleum floor. Friend Two remained seated, sipping the remains of his lukewarm coffee while staring out a bay window. Friend One whispered something to his wife, who was getting their kids ready for bed. She whispered something back, and he answered with a shrug.

“Remember that time you choked on that piece of steak, and I had to give you the Heimlich?” Friend Two said.

“I remember.”

Friend One put his and Friend Two’s mugs in the sink. Friend Two rose with a grunt. The two men tried to look at each other like they had as boys but could only see who the other had become.

“Remember how we’d get drunk and go steal lawn ornaments?” Friend Two said, hugging Friend One.

“I remember.”

They separated, and Friend One crept toward the front door. Friend Two followed, bombarding him with nostalgia. They moved so slow Friend One’s wife was able to get the kids tucked in and a bedtime story read before they made it to the mudroom.

  “Remember how we’d egg people’s houses? We were pricks.”

 “I remember.”

 Friend Two grabbed the doorknob.

“Remember—”

“I remember, promise.”

“Well, I should get going,” Friend Two said.

The two men tried again to look at each other like they had as boys but, like before, only saw who the other had become. Friend Two stepped outside. Friend One locked the door behind him. Friend Two ambled down the driveway to his sedan, remembering. His memories were so thick he could almost chew on their rose-colored, existential comfort like a piece of gum. Next to his sedan, he remembered something he’d forgotten to say to Friend One, but the house was dark. Friend One had gone to bed. 

Remembering, Friend Two hopped into his sedan and drove to a twenty-four-hour grocery store. As he shopped, he made idle chit-chat with the few other browsing customers. He bought a couple cartons of eggs and headed back to Friend One’s house.

 Splat.

Crouching behind Friend One’s topiary bushes, Friend Two heaved eggs at Friend One’s siding. After each egg exploded into a yellow and white glob, Friend Two raised his hand for a high five only to glance around and realize he was alone. 

 Splat.

 Remember when…

 Splat.

A light on Friend One’s second floor flicked on, and Friend One stuck his head out of his bedroom window. He could see Friend Two hiding behind his bushes, readying another egg. Friend Two could see Friend One’s silk pajamas, his balding head.

For the last time, the two men, straining, focusing hard, tried to look at each other like they had as boys but, like before, could only see who the other had become.

Friend Two chucked his final egg and retreated to his sedan.

As Friend Two fled, Friend One waved goodbye. 

About the Author: Bio: Will Musgrove is a writer and journalist from Northwest Iowa. He received an MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in TIMBER, The McNeese Review, Oyez Review, Tampa Review, Vestal Review, and elsewhere. Connect on Twitter at @Will_Musgrove.