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Nocturne | Zoë Mertz

You are in your bedroom and the lights are low, the lamps casting golden crescents across the creamy white sheets. You never wanted white sheets – they are too hard to clean, everything shows up on them – but sharing a bed means compromise just as sharing a heart means sacrifice, so you suck in your teeth and admire the beautiful shadow moving about your shared room, drawing the curtains but leaving the window ajar. Another compromise. You enjoy the steady night breeze, find the idea of an intruder through your second-floor window preposterous. You still have not entirely embraced the prospect of home-ownership, but the fact remains that dingy college apartments and inner-city high rises lack the space or proper environment for a family and you do so want children. At least, you think so, though every time the topic comes up in conversation, a creeping feeling descends down your neck and shoulders and the rivets of your spine. We are not old enough for children, you think, practically children ourselves, though tell that to all our high school classmates posting rings and tiny booties to their Instagrams each week. And here comes that feeling, skittering beneath the sheets, climbing up your toes and ankles and the fleshy sensitive parts of your thighs, not the pleasant touch that sometimes skims those areas but a feeling of repulsion, get it off leave me alone, but you cannot cause alarm so instead you are still as stone but for your wrist moving across the pages of your journal. That skittering feeling escapes onto the creamy white paper that matches the creamy white sheet, so pristine, except now there are letters intruding, spiky and sharp, barely a wisp of the maelstrom surging in your mind.


But now comes another touch: the brush of callused fingertips behind your ear. Warm lips, just the slightest bit chapped, press against the same spot, and then teeth graze across your earlobe, and the statue is becoming stone is becoming clay is becoming liquid as you melt backwards into the staunch chest and steady hips awaiting you on the other side of the bed. It is not the job of today to do the work of a hundred tomorrows. It is only night, and the lamps cast golden crescents on the creamy white bedsheets, and there are strong arms around you, and the night wind whistles low.  


Zoë Mertz is currently pursuing her MFA in fiction at Emerson College in Boston. She also enjoys martial arts, embroidery, and wandering around her native Pacific Northwest. Her most recent stories have or will appear in Lunch Ticket, Fairy Tale Magazine, and Written Tales. She is excited to share her writing with readers of the wider world.


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