white and red graffiti on black concrete surface

Flash No. 26 – Jannitt Ark

Without You

by Jannitt Ark

Before I met you, we went to the same party, but I don’t remember seeing you there. I like to pretend I was strangely compelled by the sight of you staggering around in a threadbare coat and loosened tie, your lips red from the bottle of wine you clutched, its green neck peeking halfway out of a paper bag. 

What kind of person dresses up as Leonard Cohen for Halloween?

So, we never got to be strangers to each other. We never got to gaze around with delightful secrecy and pick each other out of crowds and wonder about each other in that luxurious way you can wonder about people you’ve never spoken to.

Before the Halloween party, we were at another party at the same time, but again, I don’t remember seeing you at all. You must have been the silent invisible one at the card table on the patio around which young men drank whiskey and smoked as if drinking whiskey and smoking were a very solemn and important duty, as if they were high Pharisees working in single-malt ink and additive-free, naturally smooth unfiltered parchment. You must have been the scentless tasteless one who didn’t touch my hand to say hello because I can’t find an even slightly you-shaped shade in the memory I have of that night.

Later, when you weren’t there, I noticed. I watched for you places, like the back rows of buses and outside the windows of the buildings I went into every day. When I finally did see you my whole body lifted up like I’d just taken a quick deep breath of helium. 

My pillow still smells like your hair. 

And now it seems as though we’re pretty much done with each other. Like some lonely Americana song of yours: your tide is running out to sea again, darlin’. I think of women standing motionless in ports and men moving between them on a folk song sea. So now I look toward the rubbed-out spot in my memory where the nostalgia should be, the blank where we don’t dance the dance of enamored strangers. A kind of lighthouse guiding me into life, again without you.

Jannitt Ark

Jannitt Ark is grumpy about almost everything. Her fiction has also been published in Prometheus Dreaming, and she is working on a memoir about sex and romance. Follow her on Instagram @jannitark.

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