Inspired by Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks”

There’s something about the night, the way it lays on my shoulders like a silk blouse. Like the silk blouse I was wearing the night we met, at that 24-hour diner down the block from the place I used to live. There were just a few of us, sitting alone in the same place, when you walked in. You sat next to me. I didn’t like it. You were a stranger and you were too close. I tried to catch the eye of the waiter, but he was elbows deep in the sink, glasses clinking in the soapy water. So I ignored you.

There’s something about the night, the way it makes people do strange things, things they would never do in the daytime. I drank coffee, I fixed my lipstick, I nudged my cup towards the waiter for a refill. You took out a cigarette but didn’t light it, just held it like you were waiting for something. Our hands brushed together—perhaps an accident. I turned then and looked at you for the first time; I have looked at you thousands of times since. Yesterday I looked at you for the last time.

There’s something about the night, how I can stand at a window in a brightly lit room, with people talking and laughing and clinking glasses behind me. All of us, alone in the same place. Or maybe it’s just me. I try to look out at the night, but the whole time the night is looking in at me.

Editor’s note: Prior to this story being published, we learned the devastating news that the talented Beth Moulton has passed away. We will miss her and her beautiful stories so much — it means the world that she has shared her work with us. If you would like to honor Beth’s memory, a scholarship has been established in her name via https://creativelightfactory.org/donate/. Thank you so much!

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Beth Moulton earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Rosemont College, where she was fiction editor for the Rathalla Review. Her work has appeared in mac(ro)mic, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Milk Candy Review and other journals. She lives near Valley Forge, PA with her cats, Lucy and Ethel.

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