Issue 14

There are more people than names at your table and everybody’s shuffling chairs, trying to wedge somebody’s grace note of a baby into the lull between bread and salad. As for you, the empty space where your date would have been is filled to the brim with another couple’s argument. A man all in white wearing a cowboy hat lassoes the crowd and before you know it you’re clinking glasses, downing the future’s bright, bubbly promise of happiness. Only the band doesn’t join in. Bass, clarinet and horn weave tangled lives into something like harmony, fates to be cut at a date yet to be determined. On the other side of celebration, sails dot twilight and the city blinks on.

Constellations of windows climb skyscrapers, making a zodiac of possibility, but you can’t read your horoscope. Behind you, a red rose bouquet rises and sets in an arc that has nothing to do with you. The deck is strewn with the murmur of sex, laughter, high blood pressure pills, low-flying planes, innocuous and outlandish compliments, a cacophony of ties and sleeveless dresses. You pick your way across the small talk and open the door to the sea.