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Nighthawks

Ben sipped his coffee: mocha tears through his teeth,
which he grinded the eight hours he slept each night.
He used to floss before he’d been promoted. Now
when he pressed his eyelids, he did not
see kaleidoscope colors: it was papers upon papers, marked-up
reports with red ink, blood dripping down from paragraph to
paragraph.

Ben watched the woman across from him slip her hand closer
to her husband’s. The man sat up straighter, breathed shakily as he shivered.
He was remembering the night in France, in the apartment
too small for four, when their daughter had thrown up all over the balcony and he
forgot how to breathe. He remembered the cold metal of the banister slipping
like a snake through his palm as he rushed down eight flights of stairs,
stumbled out into the street and let all his Parisian dreams leak from his eyes.
He remembered how softly she had touched him then, how smooth her hands
against his back. He had wanted to fall into her like a cloud.
Her irises danced like drunk ballerinas as she said,
“We can sleep on the beach tonight.”
The man ordered a scotch on the rocks—
wanted to drown in it or at least vacation on an ice cube.

She looked at her nails and could not hear her own thoughts over
the silence in the room, which buzzed louder than any mosquito,
filled all of their heads with unbearable white noise.
This was the sound of the real city, the lonely city, the city all three of them occupied,
wished to escape like outlaws.





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