A man without hands, without feet. Night has nothing but eyes and ears and a scrap of heart.

 

You left ten weeks ago, and night is what I sleep with.

 

Tonight, I wake night up and take it to the grocery store. On the way there, Night looks at the moon, down to a sliver now, but still.  If night had a voice, it would tell me how the moon is his.

 

I walk up to the doors that whoosh open. Night doesn’t fit. He is sky, after all. He is dreams, after all.

 

I tell Night to wait, and thank God for his ears.

 

I walk inside, my slippers back home, and I pad my feet down the aisles towards the bags and bags of chips. Since you left me, I look at food. It looks at me. I have put on the weight I was afraid to. If you still loved me, you wouldn’t now.

 

I pay for the chips and slip them into my jacket. They make a bump. They are the child we will never have. I stroke the child. I am in a dream. I should be dreaming asleep.

 

I walk through the doors. The sun has shown up and pushed the night aside. I look everywhere, but Night has vanished. All eyes and ears of it. And like you, nothing but a scrap of its heart left behind.

 

 

9 Comments

  1. Laurie Marshall

    So lovely, the language you use to personify Night. And this: “He is sky, after all. He is dreams, after all.”

    I hope you’ll find a place for this out in the world.

  2. sara lippmann

    OH Francine, how I love this. It is beautiful and quietly devastating. The title does a ton of work and this story, with all its subdued magic, and dreaminess and ache, feels close already. One of the things that strikes me about the wonderfully spare quality of your writing is how much each word carries. A couple quick thoughts:

    I wonder if it starts with:

    “You left ten weeks ago, and night is what I sleep with.”

    Without hands, without feet. Only a scrap of heart.

    Which is to say: I’m not sure we need to name night as a man — it’s implicit and in the title.

    The restraint is palpable, and I wonder if you might restrain it even more. For example,I had other tiny little tweaks/copyediting suggestions, and cuts.

    I walk inside, and pad barefoot down the aisles towards the bags and bags of chips. Since you left me, I look at food. It looks at me. I have put on the weight I was afraid to. {CUTIf you still loved me, you wouldn’t now.}

    I pay for the chips and slip them into my jacket. They make a bump. They are the child we will never have. {CUTI stroke the child. I am in a dream. I should be dreaming asleep.}

    I suggested this cut because the line “they are the child we will never have” is wrenching. And I don’t want you to step on that line. And the dream feel is already coming through for me.

    As for the ending, I wonder about the circularity, if we need to return to ears and eyes and scrap of heart as takeaway. The stasis closes in — sure, but I wonder what might happen if it moves more in the direction, below —

    I walk through the doors. The sun has shown up and pushed the night aside. INSERT ONE MORE SENTENCE/BEAT HERE. I look everywhere, but it’s vanished. END {CUTNight has vanished. All eyes and ears of it. And like you, nothing but a scrap of its heart left behind.}

    Thank you for this.

  3. Constance Malloy

    Francine, this is so subdued. Everything went quiet as I read this, like how snow quiets the earth. I second Sara on the title, which then makes me second her suggestion for the beginning. Good luck and thanks for sharing.

  4. Al Kratz

    Ahh, when i was lucky to hear this read this afternoon, I heard Night is a man as the first sentence, but I agree with the others and how powerful of a title that is. I’m already hooked into the premise right away with that and it already leads us to how this world of the story will work.

    I love Sara’s edits on this too.

  5. John Steines

    Hello Francine. I love your associations and how natural you make the exchange as in ‘I tell Night to wait, and thank God for his ears’. In 10 weeks, this is what you’ve come to. Quite a way to dissolve the character – or better, represent their dissolution from you, yet present at a distance, and more than a reminder. The ending, with the sun’s presence, and the ‘scrap of it’s heart’ is so bittersweet.

  6. Patricia Bidar

    Just so good and strong and moving. The personification of night and the spare, adjective-less prose work so well. One of my faves of yours!

    So wonderfully distilled, that for some reason this line, I tell Night to wait, and thank God for his ears, sounds slightly off to me. I think the word ears — and maybe God! — too distracting here. Although I see Night needs to be left outside in order to be gone with the sun.

  7. Kate Gehan

    The sparseness of language creates an odd dreaminess that works so well. The heart stabs of children they’ll never have, and the certainty that weight-gain would end attraction/love are great details that quietly punch information about the lost relationship. I like Sara’s suggestion for cutting the repetition at the end–I think it’s more powerful without it.

  8. Suzanne van de Velde

    Francine – thanks for this dream-walking beauty. I love how you evoke so much with so little, and then ground it with quotidian specifics (forgetting your slippers).

    Many good appreciations and suggestions from others above. I think it would work well if you went straight from ‘whoosh open’ to ‘I tell night to wait. I walk inside.’

    Thank you!

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