Gayle Brandeis

S he vahhnts to be alone.
He doesn't.
"Do you remember Garbo?" she asks him.
"She wasn't nearly as beautiful as you," he kisses her hand. She pulls it away.
"I heard that when she said she 'vahhnts to be alone', what she really meant was she wants to be LEFT alone. There's a difference, you know."
"Alone is alone," he shrugs.
"So leave me alone, then," she looks at the sky. "It's the witching hour."
"And you're bewitching," he leans to kiss her hand again; she sits on it. "We should wish on a star."
"Those stars burnt out millions of years ago," she says. "They're dead. Gone. The twinkle, the shine--it's all an illusion."
"Why do you hide yourself from me?" he suddenly falls to his knees, puts his head on her hard lap. "You turn your back, you conceal your body inside your coat, you hold your heart inside your body inside your coat..."
"Leave me alone," she moves carefully out from under him. "Why can't you be more Buddhist about this? Let go. Desire is the cause of all suffering, you know." She gets up and walks off into the dead-starry night.
He rocks back and forth on his knees, watching her disappear. Oh, God, he can't help it. As much as he tries not to, he wants. He wants and wants and wants. He looks up at the sky and the false radiance there and he simply and desperately vahhhnts.

First published: August 1998