Harp & Altar
Tom Andes

Leopoldine Core
The Darkness

Jason Snyder

Tom Whalen

The Darkness
Leopoldine Core

She is so awake. She drank coffee in the middle of the day and now it’s 3:46am and she's staring into darkness. Her mind is swirling with things people said, clothes they were wearing, scenes from tv shows. Her dogs are sleeping on either side of her. There’s a little streetlight coming through the window, enough to see that they are awake too. She stares and they stare back. She realizes that they never sleep throughout the night. They just wait in the dark, she thinks and turns toward their shining eyes. This is a special thing about dogs, she thinks. A cat waits for no one. She almost cries suddenly, thinking of them awake all night, full of desire. Waiting to eat. Waiting to go outside. She thinks that she is like a dog this way, waiting in the dark for her pleasure. Not only now in bed but her whole life. Waiting to be liked. Waiting to be an adult. Or to at least have money, she thinks. Enough to pay all her bills without borrowing from her parents, who are also broke.

The shadows in the room are still when she fixates on them. But when she looks away they move subtly in the corner of her eye. They’re breathing, she thinks and closes her eyes, then opens them an instant later. The pulsing darkness beats down on her, stirring like a forest. She has pictured killers and rapists emerging from the grainy blackness. But tonight the darkness is it’s own animal. It alone is scary.

That isn’t true though. Because she’s also afraid of all the money she owes her landlord. She counts the job interviews she went on this month. One. And she didn’t even want the job. “That’s part of the problem,” she imagines her mother would say. It’s true that April is the cruelest month, she thinks. It’s the most beautiful time of year and all your hope is being pushed into a mud puddle.

She thinks of the last woman she slept with, a woman who didn’t love her or even really like her. She feels sure of this. But after some strained reasoning, she decides that the woman did in fact love her. The woman was a bunch of women. She had about seventeen selves. And one of them loved me, she thinks, putting her hand on a dog’s head. The love I get will always be this way, quick and ecstatic. The love of maniacs and liars, she thinks.

One of her dogs sighs and she wonders if it means the same thing it means when a human sighs, that they’re bored. She decides yes.

She still misses the woman with seventeen selves but she sort of enjoys all the longing. She thinks that if all the woman’s seventeen selves had loved her, it would have been frightening, like being eaten by wolves. But there’s a chance that she would like that. She doesn’t let herself consider this for very long.

She remembers the woman smoking in bed naked, her long dark hair over her breasts. She didn’t conjure the picture, it just sprang up like a frog. It was morning and sunlight fluttered on the woman’s broad face. Then she threw her cigarette out the window and smiled. It is such an uneventful memory and yet she knows it will replay itself in her thoughts for a while, maybe forever. She remembers ordering breakfast for the woman and paying for it. She wonders if the woman knew how poor she was. She thinks not as she watches the woman in bed, eating eggs from a foil take-out container. The memory is so bright that she has forgotten about the darkness. It’s just a blackness swarming around a vibrant tank of dreams. And she enters it gently, with greed.