The sun is never as bright as it is the morning after—
eyes squinting into all that light,
hands gripped tight around the wheel,
driving east toward Gotham.
You don’t even remember how you met her—
a girl from the suburbs. She doesn’t run
in the circles you run in,
but who does?
The boys at the precinct would be proud,
would say “at least you’re not dipping your pen
in the company ink.” They would laugh,
but you wouldn’t because you don’t—
Or you didn’t.
Laughter was never a part of the message,
but the message has been changed by legs
squeezed into tight black jeans, the curves of a woman
not hell-bent on the destruction of the status quo.
She is the life you left behind.
She will want kids and marriage.
She will want to walk through the grocery store,
while you push a cart—her arm laced through yours.
For now, she’ll lie to you—pull you close and whisper
things she knows you need to hear. She’ll
fiddle with your belt, but it doesn’t hold the protection
she’s looking for—it’s all rope and gadgets.
In the rearview mirror, your mask sits
crooked on your face. You remember the first time
you wore it—all those years ago—
It’ll be the only time you said.
But it wasn’t. It is never the only time or the last time—only the first, or the next.
Selena will wonder where you’ve been,
coming into the house wearing last night’s costume—
scratch marks that are not hers newly edged into the leather,
alcohol still on your breath.
“I’m not used to falling asleep alone,”
she’ll say, but she will get used to it,
and you hate yourself for it.
And to think you said it would
never happen like this again,
your eyes squinting into the darkness of the night,
your hands gripping the creases of a new body.
The patterns of your life are deafening.
Shane Wilson is an award-winning storyteller. He teaches writing to college students and chases the day with a whiskey and a re-run of The Office. His two novels are available wherever books are sold. Shane is currently at work on a new novel.