by Emma Eisler
art by Belle McDonald
The girl exits a café and the night awakens [imagine a long, serpentine creature; anything made of shadows]. The streets are empty, lampposts casting yellow haze. She pulls off her mask and lets it dangle from her hand, then a moment later tugs down her hair. She sighs, and tension seems to leave her shoulders. The camera lens [picture the vantage of a lover’s eye] focuses on her mouth and nose, intimate lines of her nude face. Her jacket is a second skin, loose and patterned like a carpet. Maybe she wears headphones. Maybe we hear the music.
She walks. The edge of her skirt brushes her tights, then lifts in the wind. She dances slightly, shoulders that sway, hair that floats around her, dyed red gone rust. The street opens its arms, pulls her to its breast. All the houses with the almond glow of lit windows. Deer that look up to watch her pass. She walks, and autumn follows in her wake, leaves trembling and wafting down to cement. Car lights rush beside her on the road, jewels in the dark. She walks, and the night slithers indefinitely ahead.
She stops walking and looks up at the moon [picture a sickly crescent, waning even as she stands under its glow]. She twirls her mask between her fingers, glances down the street. The night seems to hold unlimited offerings, a diorama of a town through which she can be a paper doll spinning and dancing, floating up with the wind amongst the telephone wires. The screen goes dark for a moment [tired eyes that must blink]. When the image returns, the girl is gone from the frame. Leaves tremble and fall. A song becomes audible as if through her headphones, one about a girl who makes herself sad–she takes herself so seriously.