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You would stroke my cheek.

Your palms facing away

from the chemical blush.

We would be warped in bedsheets;

tangled together like

pieces of careless string.

We would forget noon,

wake to twilight,

eat dinner for breakfast

leave the crumbs on the counter

by the flowers in the bottle.

You would fall asleep.

I would slip away

pull your arm off my waist,

gently place it on

the place I lay.

Then I would wrap myself

in my mother's camel-hair coat

surreptitiously stolen

from neglected closets.

Naked on the balcony,

legs drawn up close and tight,

toes cold curled on the metal.

Smoke spilling from my lips

numb fingers tracing

steps of the dancing steam

before it disappeared

in the seeping dawn.


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'Hope, you don't have to use it on your wedding night.'

She handed the pistol to Hope, right after the vows, right before the reception.

'I'm just kidding, darling. Don't worry. He's a good man. You did well sweetheart. He's a good man. You'll be fine.'

Hope's paper-thin smile tried to grow as she stared at her grandmother's reflection in the mirror. The mother-of-pearl grip sparkled in her grandmother's hand, bathed by the Chapel's cheap buzzing lights.

'There's a bullet for you, just in case.'

Hope had left the gun on the table.

A week earlier, drunk off self-pity, she had taken it out of its case and walked to the kitchen, where she stuck the barrel in her mouth and proceeded to take pictures of herself to send to Ray.

In a rare instance of good fortune, her phone ran out of battery before she could indulge her sense of pithy revenge. She woke up and pried open her tear-salted eyelashes then made sure to delete an…