Oxford Magazine: Unsated, Unslaked, Issue 37: Spring 2016

Page 19

Andrew Bertaina Andrew Bertaina

River Walk We were walking by the river on a cloudless night, half-drunk from an evening out. You took your shoes off as we strolled on the cobblestones, damp from rain. The night was cool, and eddies of wind stirred wet leaves, flapping half-hearted hellos. We’d left the bar so you could be home in time to say goodnight to the person you loved. “Are you cold?” I asked. You shivered and folded your arms beneath your chest. “Wait,” I said, taking your arm. I rarely took action in our time together. That whole summer on beaches, on trails, in bars, I had been like a small raft tugged along in your wake. I was waiting for you to turn into the light that night, waiting for to say that you’d left him, or loved me, waiting for a moment that would shift our relationship. This was long before I knew that most of life is taken up by waiting, wanting, wishing away the quiet hours of any old day without hope of change. "Come here," I said, and pulled you close. Years later, a friend of mine told me that you moved to Indiana. I was living with a girl in Brooklyn with whom I was very much in love. My friend and his wife had your Christmas photo up on the refrigerator—two kids, a husband, and a retriever, tongue lolling. That afternoon my friend and I walked through the icy streets of New York, in a terrific hurry because it was so goddamn cold. The trees had icicles hung from them, like lights on the world’s saddest Christmas trees. On the way, we talked of our jobs, office dynamics, and the people we’d once known. I thought of you, quickly, intently, while the snow flurried and scattered, muffling the sounds of the street.


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