Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Lease - 360 words
Sarah Van Name

When Melanie leased the apartment downtown, I don’t think she expected to be playing host to me and Eliza most weekend nights but that’s the way it’s turned out. She is weary but resigned – I think Melanie recognizes that both of us are irrevocably caught up in the sorrow that draws Eliza out of her house in the evenings. We are good friends to her.

Most Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, Melanie is studying, but my work ends at six and I’m free and Eliza’s my roommate and she’s restless. Eleven rolls around and she leans against the doorframe in a sequined dress, looking flushed, and even on nights when I’m already in my pajamas, I sigh, go to my room, and change.

Originally I argued that it was too expensive for us to go out this much. Which is true. But having memorized the dates of Ladies’ Nights at the clubs within a mile radius and the restaurants at which we won’t get thrown out for ordering a single appetizer, Eliza manages to coax me out anyway. And we have fun.

Until twelve-thirty, maybe, or one. Then we start walking home, and without fail, we walk an unnecessary block further, to a certain intersection where there have been no less than seven accidents in the past half-year. Usually, at that time of night, it is empty, quiet and dark.

She spends a minute or two staring at the pavement in the middle. The traffic lights echo and shimmer off her dress – green, yellow, red. They drip from her hair onto the sidewalk. She holds a fixed and unblinking focus on the pavement in the middle.

It’s then that we walk another block, to Melanie’s. As soon as the door opens Eliza starts crying. Sometimes she says, “It’s not fair,” or, “I loved him so much,” or, “It’s not fair.” On these nights I am not enough. And that’s why we both sit next to her and smooth her hair until we can wipe off her makeup with a cool washcloth and lay her down on the couch. And that’s why Melanie never has her apartment to herself any more.

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