For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“The Hot War”

Tom Paine


Halogens bathed the scene in a razor light. My great-grandfather had built the farmhouse and dug the pond and we Addisons had skated safely here in December for a hundred years. There was plenty of ice. There was no way it cracked but it cracked. I stumbled in my hockey skates with Chloe in my arms across the snow. Ten miles out of Whitefish in the woods, I wasn't waiting for an ambulance. She had a wavering pulse at her carotid, and I gave her mouth-to-mouth with her head in my lap while bombing at eighty over the frozen washboard roads. I'd never kissed her on the lips. Her eyes were wide open and dilated. She gagged up a pink, frothy spittle, and I was so excited I sideswiped a snowbank. On impact, she slid to the floor of the passenger seat. There was nothing to do but pull her up by her hair and keep driving and pumping her full of breath.