Not There

Returning from a long trip, I’m baffled to find that my parents are back together.
“What happened?” I ask.
They shrug. Something isn’t there.
“What, ten years of hating each other, and now you’re just going to start over?”
Apathetic nods.
“Because we can.”
It makes sense, and it doesn’t. They aren’t happy, that’s obvious. When the love has been gone for such a long time, it’s hard to bring it back. Still, it stirs huge, frothy waves of hope inside me. If this is possible, it opens a whole new window of Other Things That Could Happen. Things for which I would give everything I own. Things . . . to die for.
I try to make my question sound casual.
“Do you know where she is?”
They exchange awkward glances.
“What kind of question is that?” Dad asks.
A new thought hits me. Magic one.
“The barn’s still here, right?”
“Well,” Mom says. “Funny you should ask, because I happened to drive by the other day, and it looks like they’ve done some major renovations. Three new turnouts, a covered arena, and they painted the barn red.”
The grin spreading in my face seems to scare them rather than encourage them, but I don’t care. This is it! All those years of looking, and the whole time she’s been right in my back pocket. In the strangest of ways, it is perfectly logical.
I turn to Mom.
“Lend me your car.”
Another awkward glance exchanged with her husband-for-the-second-time.
“It’s not a very good idea--”
“Please. I need to do this.”
She sighs and retrieves her keys from the top drawer.
I, on the other hand, couldn’t be further from sighing. Finally! She’s been gone for so long! But today . . . the day of miracles . . . I will see her again. As I pull my breeches on and zip up my half chaps, I’m on cloud nine.
“I need directions,” I tell Mom.
“Are you sure about this?” she asks, the concern written all over her face. “You know she is—“
“Yes,” I interrupt. “Yes, I’m sure.”
As I tramp down the stairs and duck into the car, I can’t believe it. Today’s the day!


Somewhere along the way, I get stuck at a red light. The longest red light in the world.
Other cars turn right and left. Cars with happy people, who probably know exactly where their horses are at all times. Lucky people.
That’s when it hits me.
It doesn’t matter whether I make it to the barn or not because she won’t be there. It doesn’t even matter how much I look for her, how much I love her, or how I can’t wait to see her again.
On the way home, warm tears flood my eyes.
My parents stand in the doorway as I stagger out of the car and up the stairs.
“I couldn’t go,” I explain between sobs.
“We understand,” Dad says.
“She wouldn’t be there anyway.”
Nods from both of them.
“I’ll never see her again,” I add, my heart breaking into a thousand pieces.
“Mom, I think you can finish the sentence now.”
“Because she’s dead,” she says.
Some things are possible, while others just aren’t.


Kajsa Wiberg
Kajsa Wiberg is a freelance writer, translator, and horse trainer. Her stories have appeared in The River Walk Journal, Long Story Short, Prose Toad, Chick Lit Review, Flash Shot, and Insolent Rudder, with forthcoming publications in Shred of Evidence, The Rose and Thorn, and Aoife's Kiss. She is a script reader for Blue Cat Screenplay and a book reviewer for Eclectica. She lives in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA, where she's at work on her second novel.