by Miriam Balanescu
Their anniversary at Primrose Hill –
8:32pm. A pin-prick star to sit beside its moon, that (moon) plate punctured into coppering blue. (The moon is a gape, or an armful.) Blinking at it, it wouldn’t blink away or slight or spittle down into the snail-trail of a plane. She imagines deflating it, with her nails, drawing out its last lunar breath. So fixed, so unlike the pink skin the jet will shed.
7:49pm. It was the same a year ago, the drive to Primrose Hill. But this time [they] are treading in their own shadows, reluctantly following the ritual. He hadn’t said a word in the car. Her friends were right – no, she would make him see.
6:54pm. Maybe they were wrong, after all, she had felt the same about him since their first night together. She had the same smile shaky as a child stumbling. The candlelight wanting so badly to touch his face.
6:31pm. They are silent in the car on the way to the restaurant. Her friends had said that, as a couple, [they] are too different, they don’t see the same way. But surely, one thing looks the same to two people, take an apple for example, a rotting apple is an apple, not two images, the same, same skin loosening, cheek burning out in last life. Could you believe it, her friends had thought this the whole time. Not said anything to her. Not until [their] first anniversary.
His 6:31pm. For the news to come today of all days. And now he must drive her to the restaurant. Joe, who-never-needed-him-Joe, cut-off-all-her-hair-to-spite-him-Joe, who had scrambled up a tree to save her neighbour’s cat, climbed back down and left him. But now she really was gone forever. He turned to her, wondered if she knew, wondered why she had left those old apples on the table? He was so annoyed with her he could barely watch the road.
6:54pm. He had loved Joe and now she was gone. She had fallen with Autumn, happy wrinkles on the leaves. And he couldn’t tell her, not today, she would hate him for it. He felt the chaos under his fingernails; the waiter glanced at him, and seemed to know it. Out-of-love on their anniversary, out-of-love.
7:49pm. She drives, he thinks about how two day’s ends are never the same and this one, a slit whole moon born out of its own blushes, was never there for Joe, but for (her. He) could be happy now, maybe. A plane exhales peach breath into crosses. He tries to stop thinking.
Her 8:32pm. And then – he is looking, no, not at the star, where he should, but at that sidling, oil-spill sun. How could she make him see the same as she did? His petrol eyes are pushing towards night, that night that will trickle into sky’s tank without regret. Her whole life hinges on that star, and she can’t – they were right – make him see it.
Miriam Balanescu is an undergraduate in her third year reading English at Cambridge University. Her poetry and flash fiction has previously been published in Footnotes magazine, Polyglossia and The Dial, and she was long listed in the Christopher Tower Poetry Competition 2014.