In bed, I can do anything: fly a rocket ship to Alpha Centauri, buy the Koh-I-Noor diamond, or make love to you in a hundred different ways. But when I wake up, my phone reads 9:20, and all that’s left of you is a humanoid depression on the saggy mattress and the vaguest scent of vanilla-jasmine. I stare at the far wall, blank as an unfilled form, and try to recreate you from last night.

You wore men’s cargo pants and a sleeveless blouse that showed off your bicycle tattoo. You were polite as peach pie except when you swore at your own two feet after stumbling back to the barstool after three G&T’s. You asked if I’d be your Uber.

Your small, slow smile broadened throughout the night until it included me, the whole bar, all of downtown Newark, and the two stars visible over the Ironbound district.

Going back to my place was your idea.

You asked if I had any weed, and we burned up the last of my July stash.

I’ve been lonely for a while—all right, my whole life—and all you had to do was touch me. You did.

Now I make my way to the bathroom, splash some water on my face, and take one, two, three deep breaths. Because I live in the 21st century, I head back to my phone and check for messages. I don’t recall giving you my number, but you’ve left a text:

Sweet. See you next Friday.

Hey, I think to myself (who else would I think to?). I’ve got a date, a plan, a life.

David Galef

About David Galef

David Galef is a shameless eclectic, with over a dozen books in two dozen directions. They include the novels Flesh and How to Cope with Suburban Stress, the story collections Laugh Track and My Date with Neanderthal Woman, the poetry books Flaws and Kanji Poems, and Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook. He is a professor of English and the creative writing program director at Montclair State University.

  • Ralph Gabriner

    At once sad and optimistic, this story captures the fraught and tender trap of human existence