midnight, midwinter, church & wellesley: i’d turn off the neon sign in the storefront, and you’d be standing outside in the blowing snow – waiting, pacing, the smoke around you bright white in the cold of winter. i’d do my jacket up tight, shove my hands in my pockets to avoid touching yours, cross my fingers in my mitten and wish for silence. but something would set you off again.
you’re a fucking bitch, you’d say. quietly, then louder.
as heads began to turn, your tirade would end with a list of my friends you’d go to bed with. on the subway home, i’d wonder what i’d lose that night. your fist would hit the wall, paintings in pieces would fly from the balcony. my back against the door just in case, i’d press my mouth into a line and watch the cat run for cover.
dodging a flying object one night, i ran. left, right, straight down the stairs, into the safety of a friend’s apartment. above, the ceiling shook with your footsteps: back and forth, an angry song. eventually, the front door slammed, the porch shook, and then that silence came.
that night something changed. i sat up all night, ripped the cord of the phone out of the wall and threw it in the hall. somehow, morning arrived, then the greyhound came. so i sat down beside a kind face and our sad story poured out, hanging in the air like stale smoke.
and then you were simply not there. the sun came up and went back down, and the winter lost its voice, and the light just stretched out further and longer, until everything you’d left behind was gone.