Alice is in love. This is a list of things she loves: a front tooth gap, a small scar on the left hand, a freckle above a top lip, the same haircut for 10 years. She bubbles up the courage to ask for a date but of course the answer is yes – Alice is in love with herself. She holds her own hand and buys yellow poppies on the corner, bringing the fragrance to her nose, running the softest parts of herself on the petals. Alice sighs. The air is hot and restaurants have opened their walls. She hears laughter and shrieking and only a little sorrow. She sees no one on a date with themselves, couples huddled together with phones in hand, some talking to one another, all furrowed brows. She ponders this while gently laying her jacket on the chair she pulls out for herself. Alice has been cheated and the cheater. She has been lost and loved and left in warm blue hues. Alice knows all love is not real love. She knows there is love for thighs and love for eyes and love for the taste of both. She knows people bend and break for hate masquerading as love, bending and breaking itself, trying to blunder to the light, trying to be the light. Alice orders champagne, toasts herself and drinks the fizz in one gulp. She orders two entrees and eats half of each, pairing steak with shrimp and a little arugula for balance, mashed potatoes every other bite. Wiping the corners of her mouth, she laughs at her own bad jokes and gets chocolate cake to go, for our treat, she teases. Alice leaves the restaurant full and high on love, on the silence of being alone. She is home by dark, humming herself a slow blues song, lights dimming with the sun.

 

***

Olivia Kingery is a writer in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where she also teaches, farms, and swims.