by Maryann Aita
Honorable Mention – Flash 405, April 2018: “Magnetism”
We were in a bad noir: two former lovers tilted toward one another in a dark speakeasy.
(a month earlier, on the cusp of
the new year, I’d been startled
half-awake by two
I hadn’t heard from him in three months, but I’d spent weeks churning mental drafts of how I could believably shroud an “I miss you” in a “Happy Holidays.”
(my heart pumped in pace with the vibrations
flooding me with uninvited self-awareness.
I knew without looking that
bright blip of green
was his name—
a little light in the dark.)
But on New Year’s Eve, I woke to his “Happy Holidays.”
He hoped I was well.
All I read was, “I miss you.”
A few weeks later, we sat in a tin-roofed bar drinking throat-stinging cocktails and saying everything other than what we wanted from each other.
I didn’t ask if he still had a girlfriend. I didn’t care. I felt entitled, however misguided that may have been. I wanted to tilt the universe in my favor, to disrupt the earth in some tiny way. He still didn’t want to keep me—just to have me—but we were magnets. It was up to gravity, to iron, to ions, to the moon. It was up to anything we could blame it on.
He asked me when I thought toilet paper was invented. He complained about Playboy’s lackluster redesign and the reduced quality of its paper stock.
It was up to gravity. To the moon.
I woke up the next morning dripping in victory.
in the dark.)
I didn’t regret it. Or the months of clandestine sex that followed. I didn’t regret when he left his girlfriend, or that I wasn’t his new one. I didn’t regret it when, another year later, he started seeing another someone else.
We only understand the moon as it relates to us. It pulls Earth’s tides, as does the sun.
We became friends then, laid a layer between our magnets. I needed that more than the moon. I needed a human to remind me how human I am. Flawed and full of emotion. Rough, like the pages of Playboy.
known to look at the ground and think
about the stars,
Three celestial objects in tension.
Sometimes Earth is in the center. Sometimes, the moon.
forgetting my feet
are my only way to fly)
Maryann Aita is a Brooklyn-based writer and performer. Her work has appeared in Exposition Review, The Collapsar, Big Muddy, Breadcrumbs Magazine, and others. Her teleplay, “The Matchbreaker” won the 2016 Broad Humor Film Festival Best Original Comedy Pilot. She was a featured storyteller in The PIT’s 2017 StoryFest and has participated in the Brooklyn Sisters Reading Series. Maryann has an MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a BA in psychology from NYU.