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  • Rebecca Lerner

I guess that means you're not coming back to New York anytime soon then

I am on the M train going from Manhattan to Brooklyn and my feet are killing me and I still need to pick up groceries. But I move to the other side of the subway car to watch the water of the East River glitter, and I notice another woman who has done the same. We give each other a quick smile of recognition. We devour this glimpse into infinity.


I am six hundred miles and two years away in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I laugh and drink and eat birthday cake and go to therapy for the first time. I wear red lipstick and high heeled boots to class and in my head, I somehow make every song I hear about me. One night, I don't eat enough before a party and at 4 am as I walk around a silent house, I faint four times — twice in the bathroom, twice in the kitchen. In the morning, I wince as I poke at my bruised body and wash the dirt off my face.


But this won't happen for a while. I am seventeen and my best friend is cruising past stop signs in suburbia. Through hazy eyes, I see the red pass with alacrity as we go fast fast fast, our stupidity burning hot hot hot. I survive to sit on the swings of someone else's elementary school and I look up at the sky and announce that the purple streaks in the night sky are the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. A boy tells me it's light pollution, excessive light caused by man. I don't know much yet about light pollution or men, but I'm learning about excess.


When the time is right, I walk off the playground.


I don't know it, but I'm walking towards Michigan and New York and New Hampshire and Paris and quarantine, heartbreak and blood, but that sky! Who could help but fall in love under that sky?


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