by Darius Apetrei, he/him

Night flung itself over the city at such speed that we found ourselves sitting in the car and eating McDonald’s in mute darkness. We simply ate, no words to share, as we both knew which way our lives were heading. We listened to the sounds our bodies made as we desperately avoided leaving any window open for the other to start a conversation. Feelings, whenever they wilt, are inconvenient to discuss. They’re easier left floating somewhere in the gloom, above our heads, running rounds around our necks and making it hard for the food to go down. I managed to find joy—even now—listening to the scraping of our hands against the cardboard cup which held our fries from spilling all over the car. I hoped that she’d enjoy that sound too. It bothered me that I no longer knew for sure, yet I didn’t want to ask her. Plus, I’ve gotten accustomed to no longer knowing anything about her; as much can be said in reverse.

We then bit into the burgers, attempting to fill our stomachs with something other than rotting caterpillars failing to convert into butterflies. We chewed and swallowed, our hunger for anything but one another guiding our eyes as far away from the other as possible. We looked at our food, at the dirty carpet covering the chassis of the car, at our hands and out the window yet for one second I felt that our eyes rested on the same surface; the windscreen. It was covered in little pellets of water. We stared at them in awe, wondering (and this I know for sure, as I still possess a vague nostalgic memory of the person sitting beside me) if just like the stars, constellations could be formed out of their incidental anchors in space. I, myself, struggled to connect the dots, as she was always the one with more experience, so, I turned on the engine, flicked the leaver, and watched as the wipers swiped it all away, wringing the night dry. An impertinent wave of the hand was all it took for everything to be over. She looked in my direction, and, without saying a word, opened the passenger door and left; leaving me behind with an empty sky and a stomach full of rot.