It was the first of November. We sat in the drizzling rain on the hood of your broken-down Malibu. Parked outside the Taco Bell at the intersection of Secor and Central, I’d just overdrafted my bank account to buy you dinner for the last time. You ordered a Crunchwrap Supreme and cinnamon twists; I ate from the dollar menu. You wanted to share a drink, I wanted to share the past. The temperature set to drop any day, it was no secret what the end of autumn would bring: broken records and cell phone screens. The sharp chill didn’t stop you wearing a green dress, denim jacket. You wanted the night—the season finale of our failed history—to be cordial. The sun began its retreat behind the silhouette of the revival theater. Above us, a small patch of light in the clouds. A dry moment. An onset of violet and raw sienna. Fresh nails, Jack-O’-Lantern pattern, you sifted through the packets of hot sauce and read aloud their messages with the reverence of a fortune cookie prophet. “Do it with passion or not at all.” “I’m not just another pretty face.” “Can you blame me for holding on?” You couldn’t look me in the eye; I couldn’t release the breath trapped in my lungs. We waited for the dark. We waited for the rain to return and redeem us.
Nathan Elias is the author of the novel Coil Quake Rift and the short story collection The Reincarnations (Montag Press 2021/20).