Will I find you in the future?

Maybe you’ll sneak up on me, watching from a marble gallery in an old library with green-shaded reading lamps. Maybe I’ll be reading about you.

Maybe I’ll have a pebble in my shoe. Maybe my eyes will sting. Maybe a sparrow will hurl itself against the glass. And I’ll look up, and there you’ll be.

You belong to the past, like nips of peppermint schnapps at the vampire girl’s grave, like a cedar chest filled with heavy 78 RPM records, records so old they’re not even vinyl but whatever came before vinyl, solid black discs that break but don’t bend. You belong to the upstairs theatre that only showed black and white movies, nights walking around looking for places that still served dinner at ten o’clock, it was a college town, surely we weren’t the only ones still awake, but we’d always end up at the same Chinese place, scorpion bowl cocktails with tiny paper umbrellas we’d have sword fights with, and one night we found a puppy someone left tied to a shopping cart. How long had he been there? Every other store in the plaza had closed. He nipped our fingers and howled like a baby wolf. We took the puppy home, your studio with the Murphy bed that flipped up instead of staying down, like something from the Three Stooges, mattress so thin I could feel metal bars underneath digging into my back. We had no dog food so you fed the puppy leftover pork fried rice from your own plate and I thought, here is a man who would give his last meal to a starving dog, and it was true, you would. When did I learn that was all you had to give?

The record store we worked in is a Starbucks now. The theatre was a hookah bar, then a yoga studio. The tenements on your street were knocked down for condos, all the streets we walked too bright, too clean for ghosts. Still, someday, I think, I will see your shadow. I imagine you catching my eye. I imagine myself looking away. I imagine us in a room of windows grown yellow, light brittle as celluloid, air that might break but won’t bend around our silence.

***

Kathryn Kulpa is an editor at Cleaver Magazine and has work published or forthcoming in Best Microfiction 2020, Atlas & Alice, X–R-A-Y Literary Magazine, and Women’s Studies Quarterly. She was the winner of the Vella Chapbook Contest for her flash fiction collection Girls on Film and a finalist in the 2020 Digging Press Chapbook Competition.

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