A Night Like Many Others

Christmas, 2001 / No. 7

The truck hadn’t even stopped

and already, seeing the tailgate plunk open,

I bolted from my waiting place behind

ancient porch windows and was up and in,

past rows of skinny knees and beer cases

guarded by pretty hockey-haired boys,

to the cool metal flatbed spot where

my best friends whispered.

Packed in tight and breathing in dust,

we rode there fast and I laughed, blinded

by someone’s swirling hair-sprayed layers.

Then, gulping fast at an ill-gotten cooler,

I turned to watch him and saw his smile

flash silver under the nearly-last streetlight, on that

secondary road, winding downhill towards

the black lake.

Inside the cottage, the air got thick with bodies and

summer stillness, and we were mad drunk.

People made the rounds, music pounded, a fight started

and ended, someone fell from the kitchen table

and I leaned further into my friends, forgetting

my careful clothes, spilling pink juice all over,

when at last, he came to stand near me, so close, I felt

the heat of his smooth arm.

But still drinks came and I wandered

out through pine boughs, looking

for a place to throw up, and everything blurred

under that clear night sky, so that when I kissed someone,

I didn’t care anymore that it wasn’t him,

or that my friends had left, until, back inside,

I glimpsed in a cracked mirror, my stained shirt, puffy lips,

and that strange look of terror and victory in

my own red eyes.

Marguerite Pigeon writes fiction and poetry. She's currently at work on two speculative novellas about holography, drones, women, and sex. Last updated summer, 2019.