Invisible cost of being

It’s raining. Somewhere I know a Chet Baker song is being played. Your hand is on the back of my neck. Tuxedo white shirt. Lips, hands, arms, one long note of ‘It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s delectable, its delovely…’ A half carafe of cheap wine. “Spaghetti, with those large meatballs.” A vinyl checked cover, smoke swirling under a thick lamp, laughter, caught in loose tendrils, like sweet gifts wrapped by friends.

I believe everything.

Under the table you take my hand, your fingers softly outlining my knuckles, then the inside of my wrist, as though you’ve always been there, as though you always will. And I believe you. I look up, catch our reflection in the cracked mirrored panels, the black specks of Italian restaurant charm like a mosaic I can’t stop looking at.

Red cups hang over lights, cast hollow pink glow on diners. Chianti, dribbles down, smiles, leaning on shoulder, lips brush ear. Stories. You whisper, “I want to be this way forever.”

The waitresses arm brushes yours, eyes lift, crease, a moment, and I know. It’s an illusion. White bread, butter plate, fingers reach for the bottom of the glass, grasping, steady. Be still. Betrayal.


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