Rappahannock Review | Kelsey Liebenson-Morse
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The Over-Thirty League by Lou Gaglia
“Jesse told me about the over-thirty softball series…”

The Kid Next Door by Zeke Jarvis
“On Tuesday, the neighbors ask Justin to threaten to eat their child…”

What Gets Worn by Jesse Waters
“I needed a suit. I was twenty-four and didn’t have one.”

What You Feed Me by Kelsey Liebenson-Morse
“1. Caramelized Frog’s Hollow Farm peaches and roasted fingerling potatoes….”

Sport by Christopher Lowe
“My father was not a sports fan…`”

Multiple Choice by Matthew Gavin Frank
“A couple of things: 1) At about the same time Grandma Ruth died, my sister…

Gone by Krista Christensen
“I swallow the Xanax like I could swallow truth with it…”

Yo Mama So Fat by Karen Craigo
“If I fall, I’ll make an earthquake.”

Siberia by Sasha West
“The dirt, the rust, the anchored ships, the gangways frozen.”

Museum of Natural History #37, Helen {Keller} by Sasha West
“She launched a thousand stares, a thousand words on the sea of her hands…”

Billy Sunday’s Revival Tent by David Salner
“All summer, light towers blaze,
reflect off sweat.”

Good Vibrations by Daniel Romo
“Who expects lessons from a buff Boston boy.”

Driving at Night in the Rain by Sarah Hulyk Maxwell
“We find ourselves suddenly over open water.”

A lady never wears panty hose with runners by Sarah Hulyk Maxwell
“our stockings classify
us: nonladies.”

$25 Statutory Witness Fee by Sarah Hulyk Maxwell
“I hear the lawyer use the term spiderwebbing to describe her head…”

Meanwhile by Jessica Goodfellow
“Here is a photo of my second son.”

Proper Abcedarian 6: January by Devon Miller-Duggan
“Another bandage, another look-every-stranger-in-the-eyes…”

Proper Abcedarian 1: Turns by Devon Miller-Duggan
“And fall and the light tasting of good scotch, like belief….”

Ill-Suited by Christopher Dollard
“At the mall, the suits I try on for my best friend’s wedding remind me…”

She Went Into the Lobby For a Box of Junior Mints by Gregory Crosby
“The warm & the cool, the embrace & the gaze, the entangled…”

How Did Your Father Spend His Spare Time? by Ace Boggess
“It was the 70s, & I too young to learn gamble…”

What You Feed Me

 

1.
Caramelized Frog’s Hollow Farm peaches and roasted fingerling potatoes, smothered in crème fraîche with crunchy bites of chive. Sun gold tomatoes from the Union Square Greenmarket in sunset hues of red, orange, yellow. Bony carrots in white and deep purple. Garlicky faro and fava bean salad. Delicate shoots of nasturtium and hunks of doughy bread slathered in butter. You buy your butter in rolls, slicing it off in thick round circles, you are not afraid to use butter or salt. According to you, everyone forgets salt when they cook.

2.
I watch you in the kitchen, chopping violet artichokes. Confidently you work with speed and ease, operating on muscle memory: experience, familiarity. This is your space. You command it. Twisting the artichokes around in a circular motion, slicing off briny leaves, locating their fuzzy little hearts, their soft edible cores. The artichoke: unassuming and time consuming, though the meaty texture makes the labor worth the yield. You aren’t one to shy away from hard work. This, I recognize. I understand.
You focus on me as you slice, eyebrows arched in concentration. The artichokes don’t stand a chance beneath your veiny square hands, each paired down into identical cylinders. You are nothing if not exact, if not particular. How much I admire attention to detail, this persistence a wellspring of fortitude written in your Midwestern bones, in your history.
Growing up under a filtered yellow South Dakota sun, skipping rocks to kill sunning rattlesnakes, long limbs and golden brown skin, racing across a rusty expanse of family farmland, so different than the contained spaces of my childhood, stately green pillars of evergreen and pine, soft ground underfoot. Your horizon: endless stalks of corn, rye, wheat. Somewhere, sunflowers. Cattle. How far you’ve traveled, to be here, now.
I watch you wielding your paring knife with conviction and realize how much I want you. Sliced artichokes fill the bowl, drawn and quartered, stripped open, flesh exposed. Between us, a stainless steel counter, dim kitchen backlights and you pause for a moment, hand on your hip stooping down to make eye contact. Women never come in here, you know. You say it with a smirk, as if impressed by my audacity. I am not supposed to be in your kitchen, after all. I am a hostess.
You are the executive chef of a three star restaurant in Manhattan. Tonight you are in the back kitchen, behind the private dining room, cooking dinner for Mayor de Blasio. I saw Jeb Bush and his wife at the bar downstairs. You’re annoyed because this is Sunday, your day off. I came in here under the pretense of asking if you wanted anything to eat. I knew you’d say no. For a chef, you’re tall and skinny. You hate fat chefs; you’ll tell me later. Lazy, you scoff with disdain.
It is March in New York, a lingering, spiteful winter chill. At work we have brief conversations, and when you realize I live in South Slope, your eyes light up. Dating in New York is a complex game of geographical proximity. Shift after shift, I wait for you to come down the stairs and to ask me how I am, because you always do and you never ask anyone else. You come around the corner from the upstairs dining room, pausing next to the host stand, checking the reservations on the computer screen. If nobody is around you start talking to me.
How is your day going?
Wasn’t it crazy last night?
Have you tried that new brunch place? On third?
You are chatty, and you laugh at what I say, standing closer than you need to. When you leave for the night, you stop to say goodbye.
I go to Florida for a week.
I missed you, you say.
I didn’t realize until now, but I missed you.
You look sunned. Happy.
You stare right at me. I blush and smile and wonder who you are beneath your white chef’s jacket.
It takes you three months to ask me out. In December when I first started at your restaurant, I was dating a wrestler from Long Island with a cauliflower ear, and you were living with another woman, a nurse Pilates instructor. I wish I could say I don’t know her name, but I do. Sandra. You raised two small dogs together. Havenese, Cuban dogs by way of the Canary Islands. I distrust them. When you brought them over, I was certain they would report back to her, your ex-lover. She has blond hair, they would say. Just like you Mommy! One afternoon the dogs and I were alone in the apartment, and when you left to buy blueberries, the three of us waited by the door. I looked at them somberly and told them I would try to love them, fingers crossed behind my back.
The wrestler never loved me. Sandra was a siren, or at least this is what you tell me. But we were different people, before. This is the narrative we tell ourselves, the myth lovers rewrite each time. It’s different with you, I’m different, we say. Making ourselves believe we will get it right.
Finally, one night you write your phone number on your business card. For our first date you pick a restaurant on Houston Street in Soho, to meet for drinks and snacks. I am so nervous I drink two glasses of red wine while reading the menu in bed. I force my roommate into my bedroom for a second opinion, trying on three outfits before settling on easy-fitting blue slacks and a slouchy grey sweater. I wind my favorite red scarf around my neck for good luck. I wear my hair down and leave my face without makeup, applying just enough lipstick to appear alive. I am delighted a little of my tan has lingered from Florida. On the train I listen to Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor,” because her voice calms me.
When I get off the train, I walk frantically around the block three or four times searching for the restaurant. I am desperately talking to my sister when I finally look up and spot a tiny sign: Estella. A beacon. When I walk in you are sitting at the bar wearing a dark blue sweater, and when you turn to greet me I know I am in trouble.
Are you hungry?
My stomach is in anxious excited knots. You order—you’re a chef after all—and the bartender knows you. We cut off small bits of molten burrata and delicate quail breast. The bartender keeps filling our big round glasses of wine. And how intimate, sharing food. Try this, you say, pushing a mushroom onto my plate. I comply. I would eat anything you fed me. Later, I’ll tease you for picking a restaurant that was so difficult to find.
Was it a test?
Yes, and you passed, you smiled.
You’ve gotten two tickets to the Knicks game; in our seats at Madison Square Garden we clutch big plastic cups of beer beneath bright lights, cheering fans, we giggle, punch drunk. How this scheming city hides lovers from us. Too soon the game is over.
A nightcap on Fifth Avenue, you ask?
We ride the train home together and we are drunk. Skylark, a bar we both like. What day of the week is it? Of course time doesn’t exist in this city. I drink more red wine. You’ve switched to whisky. We both want a cigarette; you say you keep an emergency stash at your apartment and did I want to come over? Wise women know never to say yes on the first date; but fueled by alcohol and your body angled towards mine, I say okay, but just for one.
The yellow cab door shuts and we touch with the urgency of teenagers. We walk up many stairs to your apartment. It is smaller than I had imagined it would be, dark wood floors clean and tidy. And then there is just you and me in your quiet apartment, two bodies, trying to connect. You are warm and limby; I like how your beard scratches my face. Your ex took the curtains when she left; dim light from the street shines down on your bed, illuminating us in our drunken glory. You have clean white sheets, I note through a haze of lust and alcohol. We never smoked that cigarette.
When I open my eyes in the morning, I remember I don’t know you at all and that I need my hosting job to pay my rent and survive in this demanding city. Half tripping, half falling out of bed, I see there is a giant portrait of a shirtless man wearing a wolf mask hanging over your bed and I wonder what I have gotten myself into. The wolf man’s icy blue eyes bore into me, echoing the pounding in my head, the rushing of blood through my ears. I try to locate my far-flung clothes, where have my underwear disappeared to? My breasts are pale and pink in the unforgiving morning sunlight.
You stir and ask where I am running off to; this is a conversation we will have many times, you asking me why can’t you stay?
At least let me make you coffee, you offer.
You are not embarrassed to wake up naked instead, you are bemused and content, though not in a predatory way, more as if you are happy to see me still in your bedroom. The sleepy cat who has swallowed the canary. I make excuses and leave your apartment praying I haven’t made a mistake, that I haven’t misjudged your character, your intentions. The wolf man’s stare stays with me all day. I smell you all over me.
I fit so easily into your life. I wonder what you did with your free time before me? What you did, with her. The woman who sat on this same couch, who looked out the window at the same view of Brooklyn. Did you make her eggs, too? Runny and bright and just soft enough.
Eggs are all about the texture, you say.
You’re generous with me, always encouraging me to be at home, to stay.
You know you can put your bag in the bedroom, Kelsey.
You shake your head, scolding me.
All smart women have contingency plans. I leave my bag by the door. But I keep coming back.
You want to know where I have applied to graduate school and I tell you how last year I applied to Columbia and got in and it felt like all my dreams were coming true. Then I realized Columbia would cost $80,000 a semester and applied to far flung programs that offered full funding, like University of Alabama and Western Washington. I am waiting on phone calls, and have been rejected by a few schools.
You’ll get in, you say, when the topic comes up.
Of course you’ll get it. Don’t be silly.
I want you to say something like I can’t believe you’re going to be leaving me, but you never do, so I don’t either.

3.
One night after work, we agree to meet at Fedora in the Village. Coordinating our night’s activity is a high stakes process, since we haven’t told anyone at the restaurant about our relationship. This means half the staff already knows we are sleeping together. Often we meet at the Flatiron Lounge on West 19th Street, or you meet me at the subway entrance in Union Square. We sneak around the restaurant, plotting. A chef dating a hostess, one of the oldest stories in restaurant time. Yet, the danger is real, you could be fired. But I wanted to, I imagine protesting to the manager if pressed. I wanted all of it.
I accepted an offer, from West Virginia University. My future is suddenly glaring bright and daring me to participate, to leave this half-life I now lead. I will be leaving you, and leaving New York, this city I love every corner of. The anticipation of heartbreak is a slow and insidious killer.
I leave work first tonight and I perch on a bar stool at Fedora in a bright red coat. I leave it on, partially for the romance, for the theatricality of it, because this is New York, and you can be whomever you desire. I order a glass of wine and breathlessly wait for you to be near. When you sit down my blood begins to slow a little, the pumping sensation when you face me and my face flushes red with pleasure.
When I tell you the program director at West Virginia called me, you smile in a weary way. Your smile doesn’t quite reach your eyes, but you try hard to be celebratory. See, you say.I told you.
I am nervous, I say.
You’re going to do so well. What are you drinking tonight?
I realize for now this tiny celebration is all you can manage.
Tonight you and I are electric together, drawing in strangers left and right, everyone wants to know our story, how did we meet, where did we meet? Do we love each other? Outside, we smoke on the street, and a tall British businessman bums a cigarette.
How long have you been dating? He asks. Not long I would guess, maybe two, three months?
We nod in unison, embarrassed to be so transparent. He shakes his head and looks at you.
But she’s worth waiting for, right mate? I can tell this is going to be something, big.
I am convinced this unassuming, paunchy Brit is an oracle; he has seen our future. The distance won’t matter when I move. You will want to keep me. You will have to keep me. I repeat this enough times, so it will become true.

4.
Spring. The first day of newness, of freshness. Window open, good clean chilled air rushing in. Out your window, the particularly gritty corner of Brooklyn you love, made your own: dusty outdated porn shop down the block, Greenwood cemetery across the street, Storm Cellar on Seventh Avenue in Park Slope, where all the sommeliers know you by name, know you’re a chef, ask what you’re cooking, what taste you want to compliment the meal? A Spanish table wine tonight? It tastes just like a Pinot Noir, they say. You pour me a large glass in the early evening.
Try this, you say.
It’s so effervescent.
I grew up on fresh grapefruit, on Manchego cheese and chocolate croissants. You grew up on grilled peanut-butter-jelly sandwiches, fruit tarts and drumsticks. You cook us dinner, a new plate for every course. You have glasses for both red and white wine, tumblers for cocktails, a long silver spoon to mix drinks. Often you’ll peel an orange rind into what you call “boozy” drinks.
Only I know how far you’ve come from your rambling farm childhood, dinners at The Red Lobster and ham-and-cheese sandwiches on Wonder Bread. I know you’ve invented your identity, that you’ve learned it, adopted it, made it yours. This construction, this version of you has been honed over years of careful study, observation.
Your father is a pilot, and he left when you were little. You are the oldest of four, the pack leader. You certainly are not your Midwestern father, with your expensive tastes and designer glasses and skinny jeans. Your grandmother sends you clippings from the local newspaper. The Want Advertisements. Denny’s: Seeking Line Cook. I know it is lonely, being on your own. They don’t understand why you live here, why you care about being known, recognized. Why you want to be famous. Why you want to quit your corporate job and open your own restaurant.
I was much more trained for this glittering cosmopolitan world than you. Educated parents, summer camp in Vermont, The New Yorker, fine dining and travel to tropical islands. Mine was a childhood of excess, of comfort. At home we eat spiced nuts. Mom spreads a big white tablecloth. We drink rummy eggnog and eat homemade poppy-seed muffins. Yet somehow, it is you teaching me. You make me fancy drinks with crushed rosemary and everything in your world is beautiful and ordered and I imagine us together in your apartment full of beautiful things. I could move my books in and wake up each morning happy in bed. And if I would stay here in this life, I would keep writing unfinished essays.
You are aware of what you did not have as a child and spend your time compensating for the lack of. You are a wealth of knowledge: what dressing to use on an arugula salad, how to fold your socks down, the song everyone is listening to now in Brooklyn. Every New Yorker is reading Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. I am reading Joan Didion’s My Year of Magical Thinking and keep crying on the train. Joan Didion and John Dunne worked collaboratively throughout their marriage. I want this to be you and me. I will help you write your recipes, you will know what magazines I should be published in. Dreams come true here.
Sometimes my unstudied air bothered you, my lack of concern with trends or with style. I catch you judging me. You’re preoccupied with what everyone thinks of you. You’re thirty-three, young to be an executive chef. You hide your scars well, marching around the restaurant, directing your army of staff. You are cool. There are no chinks in your armor that anyone can see but me, when you voice your insecurities to me in the dark. I pull you close and tell you all your dreams will come true, because I believe this, and because I know it is what you need to hear. And because I love you, I understand you. You understand my writing because you believe in me and when I share one of my essays with you, I tear up when you tell me I am a good writer. Even if you are lying, having you see all of me is overwhelming. You look at me differently after reading my work. You’ve peeled back another layer. We are closer than ever.
I picture your childhood covered in a light film of wanting, of desiring what there was never enough of. You had a heavyset black lab named Ranger. When Ranger kept killing the chickens your dad tied the dead chickens around his neck, a bloody garland. One time your grandmother tried to dry out wet kittens in the oven. She left them in for too long. I sense a particular callousness under your sweet exterior. I like this darkness; I look for it.
On the first morning of spring we laugh because it smelled like fried fish, the neighbors are cooking again. You throw your hands up in protest. You’re tired of cutting up seafood, the fishy scent clinging to your fingertips. I learn how to make you laugh. When you’re happy your eyes crinkle at the corners. Your two front teeth are fake, they got knocked out at a rave when you were in your twenties. Still, a generous pleasant mouth, dark brown eyes, hair nearly black, there is Native American there. I hate it when you cut your hair short on the sides. You get it done every six weeks by a fancy barber in the Bowery. I don’t ask how much you pay to achieve this look.
I am wearing your t-shirt it’s black and says “South Dakota” on it with a picture of a big, red moon and I climb on top of you, you slide into me, we are not two but one.
I’ve waited for you, and you slide your hands up and down my middle, my thighs, square hands fitting over my breasts. I love the sounds you make when you’re pleased. I want to know what to do to make you happy all of the time. Sliding your hands up and down my hips, my breasts, my shoulders, melting, it is all skin on skin and you are delicate and rough, forming me into the exact size and shape you desire, paring me down, unraveling me.
I don’t stand a chance. In the morning, it is different; we are slower, saner, taking our time. It is Sunday and there is nowhere to be but here, together—in your bed on the first day of spring.
I leave your apartment in the still, early morning, trees wet, dewy green and sprouting. I am budding, too. Everything feels new and fleeting.

5.
I wake up on my twenty-fifth birthday in your bed. You pickled a large mason jar full of ramps for me, their long bodies reminding me of ghostly sea creatures. The ramps are opaque: you removed their broad green tops, bulbous bodies suspended in liquid. Ramps grow by rivers and swamps and bogs and are only harvested in the springtime. You fed me ramps, many times, sautéed in butter, sprinkled over sausage pizza.
On the jar, you have carefully written the date. 5-14-2014. The jar is as a tangible testament of your devotion. I put it on a shelf in my apartment, where it watches over the bed I never sleep in anymore. I will take this jar with me. When I move far away, when I move far away from you. You understand my dedication, my obsession, my desire to be able to say I’m succeeding, I’m trying, to be more. It isn’t a choice as much as an imperative. You’ve fought hard to tell everyone, I am a chef. That security, I want it, too. I envy you. I am fighting for the right to tell the world I am a writer. I am too old to keep putting it off. That doesn’t mean that leaving this life isn’t splitting my heart, in two.
Sunday, we walk to Greenwood Cemetery, an oasis of green rolling lawns, stately Brooklyn beeches and maples and oaks with towering trunks, long reaching branches, cherry trees weeping now late in May, losing their vibrancy, pink petals falling. We walk uphill, pausing to stop among headstones, trying to reach the summit, searching for Lady Liberty’s outstretched arm, her burning torch.
Getting too hot, we take a break beneath a low hanging tree, shaded from the sun. You radiate a steadfast smoothness, unflappable, unshakeable. When it comes to me, you are sure, you are direct in your proclamations of affection.
You say, I want you. I know what I want.
Sitting on the cool spring grass I close my eyes and imagine the future. Because it is almost summer; and the sun warms my face, I believe I am not alone, anymore. I let myself believe that my move will not be the end of us, just another chapter.

6.
It is summer in the city and we are hot and heavy. Our first trip to the ocean together you wake me up early, a rarity. Giddy, eyes alight; let’s go, you say, we can be on the beach by eleven. Of course you’ve packed the whole car; I fumble to put my clothes on, still partially asleep, slipping into the passenger seat. It’s quiet in Brooklyn on this Saturday morning; as the day warms up we drive faster, excited. You take me to Watch Hill, in Rhode Island declaring this to be the real ocean. You have standards, for everything. I won’t tell you how often I came here as a child.
You’ve packed crab salad sandwiches on soft challah bread.
Crab is better than lobster you say, taking a big bite.
Today, I agree with you. You pry oysters open casually as if everyone else on the beach is eating oysters, too, filling each one with a dollop of black caviar. You pour me a plastic cup full of cold champagne, and kiss me.
We run into the freezing water and there isn’t anywhere else I want to be than stretched out with wet salty legs next to yours. We switch to rosé, sweet and pink; the day melts away, clouds passing overhead. You feed me salty slices of salumi and sharp cheddar, salt and pepper potato chips. You’re always feeding me. In the fall I will be teaching Composition and Rhetoric, 101. I will teach eighteen year olds to write, and I will read poetry and wave hello to published writers in the hallways of the English building. I will feel like I belong. My mind will grow and expand and my writing will too.
You’re planning a greenhouse at the restaurant, your own brainchild, and you’ve ordered a mess of seedlings: tomatoes, tomatillo, sage, coriander, flowering tobacco, basil, hot peppers, and lavender. The garden will burst into bloom, marigolds and eggplants and cucumbers. I won’t be here at the end of summer to see everything burst into flower. I will be walking the streets of Morgantown, sitting down at my laptop, meeting new people, trying to make sense of the quiet, the slowness of the south.
We like to brainstorm names for your dream restaurant. You say you need me for this. We have many conversations about food, the language is so tactile, so fleshy, so ripe and full; I am seduced by your vision, your tastes, seduced by your understanding of language because language is my world. How well they fuse: food and language. I’ve loved words my whole life. How they sound, how they roll around in your mouth, how you use them to get what you want, to say what you mean. To tell you how much I love you. There is a beauty in language—unrivaled.
You describe your newest dish to me: Florida sun shrimp, English peas, white corn polenta, ham hock jus— a dish inspired by brunch we had together, Littlneck, rough wood tables and small vases of wild flowers. Another new dish: puréed asparagus soup poured tableside followed by squares of grilled cheese, morel, Meyer lemon. When you write your menus, you compare it to writing haikus. I think so, too. Feet propped up on the coffee table, drinks poured, a bowl of pistachios between us. You never run out of ways to touch me, to remind me you are near, you are here, and you are mine, for now.
At the restaurant, we play the familiar game of not knowing one another. Across an engagement party, tinkling jazz piano, tasteful lighting, beautiful people in beautiful clothes. We are only spectators, yet I find this exact moment prophetic, when you look at me from across the room the crowd parts and I can hardly stand to be still in my own skin with your eyes all over my body, up and down. Will you and I plan an engagement party together, exchanging vows? You stand in front of your kitchen in the dining room under skylights in your white jacket.
I want to fuck you one more time, you say later.
Do whatever you want.
I swear it’s the sexiest moment of my life, molding and breaking apart. In the sun streaked Brooklyn dawn sky I fall asleep on your outstretched arm.

7.
When summer is almost over and I am almost gone I take you home, to Thornton Wilder’s small town New Hampshire, my New Hampshire. We pack a picnic for the day, Caprese sandwiches with fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden on Mom’s French baguettes, spicy mustard and a bag of grapes. A few beers we rustle up. I hover around you, watching you in my parent’s kitchen, an expert no matter what kitchen you are in. You follow me without question through the woods, crossing a small stream, weaving through shady woods, walking onto a glacial boulder. We are the same, outdoors. We both grew up outside.
I could stay here forever, you say.
The sun shines down on us. The water is quiet. The trees are lush, green.
I try to hide my delight, my glee. I want you to love my home, like I do.
In my childhood bedroom within purple walls, you pull me close.
It can be your home too, I want to whisper.
You miss your family, far away in South Dakota.
You can share mine, I want to offer.
We walked through Mom’s sprawling garden beds, checking to see if the pumpkins have arrived yet, filling tin cans with blueberries, pulling off great green greedy handfuls of broccoli. I wait for you to grab me and speak, to yell, to scream, to stop me.
You can’t go. You can’t leave me.
But you don’t say anything and I sigh and turn over and imagine my essays being published and squeeze my eyes shut tight, hoping my writing will sustain me. In my dreams, you follow me, tugging me back. Promising, this isn’t goodbye.

8.

It is fall now and I live in West Virginia; you have stayed in New York. This weekend you’re going to learn how to surf. I picture you far from shore in the rolling waves, long lean body struggling to jump up on a surfboard. I imagine waves crashing and pulling you underwater, when you come gasping to the surface, you scream my name. Far from shore, nobody will hear your cries.
My daydreams are violent; in them you die. I picture myself swept off my feet by someone I’ve yet to meet, telling you, sorry, I fell in love with someone else. You call to tell me you’re going to a wedding in Chile this winter. I am enraged. You make plans to travel abroad, but you cannot drive your car to West Virginia—to me. You say you realize I was the only thing in your life making you happy, that you lost your best friend. But you make no effort. You can’t see I am right here. I harbored the secret hope; I could stop looking.
Leftover summer heat will dissipate, and I will run long distances as the sun sets early. The air-conditioner will fall silent. I will fall asleep convincing myself it wasn’t meant to be. I will tell myself this so many times, I will see it become true. The city, the two of us together, will flicker and fade. I will continue to write. To become what I came here for. You’ll find some other woman to be your muse. I’ll find a temporary relationship to block you out. I will make meals for one, potatoes and clam chowder, comfort food as the temperature drops.
And at night when I am alone wondering what I am doing here, I imagine soon you will call and ask me to be yours. Perhaps, soon, I will become a writer and you will open your own restaurant, Nightshade; I will come in during service wearing something dark and clingy and sidle up to you tweezing green onions onto a perfectly plated piece of skate and you’ll kiss me right on the mouth. I’ll open my mouth wide, ready and waiting for all that is to come, all that we are to become. Diners will turn to stare at us. Try this, you’ll say, grinning. And I’ll eat anything you feed me.

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