A NIGHT IN THE PARK • by Anna Moriarty Lev

There’ve been other stories of such longing. Of snowstorms and single roses. The desire that makes you smile as you walk down the street, but unbalances your limbs at night so you thrash between the sheets, unable to quiet into sleep. We’re all lonely; we know what it’s like.

I thought I’d finished with all this when I met him. It was a warm night, and the light lifted him right up, turning him around in gold. The stars were small and pale, the leaves hissing in Morse code breezes. I’d forgotten what all that could do to a girl. We walked around the park while the birds slept on the water, ducking their heads into their feathers. He told me it was like a poem he knew once. The night was certainly a poem and I had no way to write it down fast enough. Half-sentences flashed into my mind on a screen, dying out again before I could catch them.

I thought — and this all bubbled up in gasps and flutters under my skin — that I had forgotten what it was to be a woman. All this, these wings and lights and roses, they drifted away from me on small boats, rolling very quickly toward the horizon on the tide. What he was doing as we walked through the park in the late evening was cutting holes in my body through which water poured, and the boats came back.

Don’t let it surprise you that I felt empty at the end. It wasn’t my poem he was talking about. And in the morning, with light on the trees again, I saw that things made sense only now, alone in a diner, drinking coffee and listening to old songs on the radio.

Anna Moriarty Lev likes to tell all kinds of stories. In addition to short stories, she also writes plays and makes comic books. Her titles “Shelf Life” and “Fish Dreams” can be found in comic book stores around the country. Her work has also been published in Bateau Press and Good Days, Bad Days. If you can’t find her, she’s probably in a dark movie theater somewhere, watching something and eating popcorn.

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