Six Feet

John Williams, University of South Florida


The distance from here to there is six feet. Exactly two yards, seventy two inches. It’s two sections of sidewalk that as a boy you could jump, if you got a running start. It’s the exact height you would climb in the oak tree in your yard before you got scared. Six feet is the exact distance away she was the first time you saw her. It’s close enough to smell her vanilla perfume, and yet far enough away to dare not approach. Six feet is the length from her front porch steps to her door, which took an eternity to cross, the whole time spent praying for that first goodnight kiss. It’s the exact distance down the aisle she stepped before your eyes let loose those tears of joy on your wedding day. Six feet is the distance across the threshold as you carried her into your first house. It’s the distance from the nursery window to the row of tiny cribs holding even tinier babies, where you stood with your dad full of pride as you pointed to your new baby girl. Six feet is the length of a jump rope. It’s the length of the hopscotch court where you watched your wife and daughter play for hours from the office window, so full of love and joy. Six feet is the length of intestine they took from her when the cancer came. And the same length they took the second time, when it came back. Six feet is the distance between the hard, uncomfortable chair and her hospital bed, where you spent so many long nights, unwilling to leave her side. Six feet is also the distance between the hospital room door and her side, where the nurses held you back as the doctors made one last attempt to bring her back. Six feet is the length of the hallway in your house where you hung all of the family pictures. Where you now stand staring, laughing, crying, weeping, remembering. Six feet is the distance from her body to yours. The distance from here to there.

John Williams is a student at the University of South Florida studying creative writing. He writes short fiction and poetry, specializing in work for children. John uses his wife and two children as sources for both inspiration and material in his work, and has now added to this list their 1 year old black lab puppy. John graduates this spring and plans to continue his studies in the USF MFA program.