Night Shift

 

When I answer the phone, the early sun is pushing at the cracks in the curtain and a drowsy glance tells me it’s two hours past the time he usually falls asleep. My voice is groggy. “Love, what are you still doing up?”

Night shift is unkind to him. His voice is tired; I can hear him settling into the pillows on the other end of the line, and for a minute, I picture it strung in swoops across the thousands of miles separating us, small birds crouched together in confidences upon it. He says softly, “I’ve been looking at rings.”

I can feel a twinge at the edges of my cheeks. “Is this because I was teasing you about it this past week?”

“No, honey,” he tells me, and his voice is very clear for a moment, like light on glass. “It’s because I want to marry you.”

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Partings

At the restaurant, we order champagne at 5 in the afternoon. The waitress asks us if it is a special occasion, and we tell her that it always is. We talk of walls, and the good they never did anyone, and of Emma Lazarus. On the tenth floor, in the same room we filled last time, I see the streetlights have come on across the city, orange blossoms amid dirty slush streets and the billowing plant.


He draws me until April 3rd becomes the 4th, and when I wake from where I’ve been positioned against the sheets for warmth, I find my hair sketched in gorgeous, rich swoops of dark charcoal, my hands soft blushes of gray.


In the morning, my pockets are stashed with Benadryl and champagne corks and smudged I Love You notes.

The Beat Drop Generation

I sit out on the roof when the shingles cool in the evenings, wondering about fire escapes and cities and food that you can get at 4 in the morning, heels clucking together in your hands, bare feet on the dirty pavement, sidewalks crowded with the ethereal taste of the early hours. The time between 2 and 5 am has its own name, not morning, not night. Sometimes I think I live in that space permanently; there are always bruises on my legs – I’m forever dancing into things.

Who was I singing with, and who was I dancing with? Who pushed the peonies out of my eyes when the beat dropped, and is that person liable to be standing next to me, here, now, stinking of unbuttoned collars and raw throats and laughter?

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