A problem: to wake up feeling like you and this stranger
Dated for a year, fell in love and out again, met each others siblings, traded
Scars under the bathtub faucet,
Ate hot cheetos in a canyon,
Sat naked and found glory,
Sat naked and found empty space.
A stranger who, if night eyes are true, has the works.
Life, career, a girlfriend, and everything.
Like a prayer, complete from Dear God to Amen.
A rocky journey through the desert,
40 days and 40 nights of faithfulness.
You can’t tell if you’re sad or bored or hungry
So eat to see if that’s the ache.
But food helps
And this small universal thing
Sends you down back to the moment when he said
I love to eat
And kissed your cheekbone sloppily
The puppydog eyes of a drunk following your form
With an affection you were both sure would never wane
Pan to the side. It’s nothing.
A sidewalk, moths laying siege to a streetlight bulb
That many years from now will finally collapse
Sending shards into the street
Encased in wings and flattened thoraxes that once spread themselves onto its light
And leaving three poor survivors, mad with joy, to cross the barrier
That defeated every father
And burn themselves to nothing on the filament.
Ellen Ellis’ work has been a finalist on Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Top 25, and received the Margaret C. Annan Memorial Prize and SCBWI Student Writer Scholarship. Her stories have been published or are pending publication in Wigleaf, Lost Balloon, and The Bookends Review. Ellen is based in Chicago.