The low clouds only added insult to the oppression Lucy and her colleagues felt at the 61st Annual Law Librarians of New England Spring Meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn Portsmouth, which had been more of the same reluctant glorification of artificial intelligence in legal research paired with debates on the looming obsolescence of their profession, but afterwards, late in the gray afternoon as she sped north through New Hampshire into the White Mountains with her fists at ten and two on the steering wheel, right before she entered Franconia Notch, right where things started getting majestic, Lucy rolled down her window, stuck her head out, and sucked the cold air hard into her lungs as her black hair whipped around her skull like flames, and just then the clouds parted and golden sunlight prismed into great triangles that quilted the earth, illuminating the white quartz in granite walls, dazzling the green sequins of new birch leaves, setting spark to the Pemigewasset River low in the valley where it rode high and wild with snow melt, and a small shard of sunlight tore from the quilt to puncture Lucy’s left eye and travel unknown conduits deep between dark folds of her flesh to prick some sublime wound, ancient and tender, which never fully healed and claimed only a thin membrane to protect it; this the shard pierced and a surge of energy, unnamable, untamable, pitched through that punctum, up through her body and out her mouth and eyes, translating not into words or wisdom but violent laughter and tears, forcing her to pull to the shoulder, tires crunching over gravel, so that she might die just for one moment of perfection on the side of the road with the 18-wheelers roaring by, rocking her car on its wheels as she sat stunned, laughing and crying at the light, the granite, the leaves, the air, and her heart in anguish with joy at the absurdity of beauty before the membrane just as quickly mended and she, careful to use her blinker, conscious of the time and when her son’s high school rehearsal of The Tempest would end, wiped her eyes, rolled up her window, and merged back into traffic to continue her drive home where she would reheat yesterday’s pea soup for dinner.
Julie Jones holds an MFA in writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in the Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, Aquifer: The Florida Review Online, and the Cincinnati Review: miCRo. She has been nominated for Best Microfiction 2020. You can find her at juliemjones.com.