By Alison Lyke
New York had just turned cold for the winter, but dry, so that everything smelled like copper.
“Are you really standing there?” Robert asked, reaching out to touch, but Maggie recoiled, crossing her arms. Robert’s fingers just brushed the edge of her coat.
“Don’t get poetic. Of course I’m here.”
“I- I dreamed of you over and over. And you always look the same.”
Maggie stared at him for a long moment, his sharp features, his long brown hair pulled back and tucked under his ski cap. She might have fallen into him then, she could have taken one step forward. She stopped herself.
“Jesus Christ, are you kidding me.” Maggie pulled her arms even tighter, wishing she could fold inside her own body, “I’m leaving.” She turned and her heels clicked away down the alley.
He watched her auburn hair flutter behind her.
“So what? It’s been seven years Maggie. When are you going to fix me?”
Maggie continued to hustle away, her head bowed against another copper scented gust.
“I love you.” Robert said quietly, bitterly.
She turned and rushed toward him, all fury and fingernails. She meant to claw his face, but he cowered too quickly. Instead she beat at him with her heavy, yellow sack of a purse. She meant every blow.
Maggie shouted and punctuated each shout with a blow to either side of the man’s head, “Don’t say you love me! I don’t care!”
“Please, please.” He begged back, “Please.”
“Hey lady! Stop it over there!” A heavily scarved woman shouted from across the street. She pulled her young son to her other side, ensuring he no longer had a clear view of Maggie beating Robert with her purse.
Maggie pulled back, took a deep breath and smoothed her fiery locks.
“Are you going to hit me again?” Robert asked sheepishly.
“No.” Maggie huffed, “Just don’t ever say you love me anymore. I’ve heard it enough.”
“I haven’t seen you in two years, and it’s the same. I feel like I just saw you yesterday. I’m mean, I’m doing okay, but sometimes it gets bad. My memories of you are like drinking lemonade right after you bite your tongue.”
Maggie looked at him with a mix of shock and mild pity.
“What’s it like for you Maggie?” He asked her.
She shook her head, “Not like that.”
Robert looked at her with mounting hunger, “Please.”