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July 13th by Shawn Van Horn

I pull into the hotel parking lot, plowing through thick snow grayed by city life. I see her car. She’s already here. I park next to her and traipse toward the massive building,

sliding my feet so as not to fall. I look up to the darkened third floor windows. In which one does she wait for me?


Into the heavy warm light of the lobby, stomping winter from my shoes. I step into the elevator and try to breathe as wires carry me up to her, mechanical hand over fist.


I exit into an endless checkered hall of numbered doors.

I float toward 318 and knock softly on heavy wood. The door opens before I can take one more shaky breath,

and there she is ready in a blood red blouse.

Everything I’ve practiced to say leaves me.


She invites me in and we sit too far apart and begin

the dreaded talk of starting anew. I tell her I love her, she cries, and that sums it all up.


We leave the room, and in the elevator we kiss.

The elevator drops and takes my insides with it.

We go to a place called Boston’s, eating food and laughing over spilled secrets.

The sun has now left us,

and in the darkness we travel to a store so she can buy the alcohol

that always makes everything easier. We are alone in the night aisles, the cold keeping everyone away.

We are together in our own snow globe.

I am shaken up.


Our mechanical guide lifts us back to our room,

and as she drinks I wait. When she is ready I kiss lips that taste like rum.

I lick them, suck them.

I am drunk on her. I press myself against her until we runneth over.


The next morning we awake and are quiet.

Newness feels like oldness. We walk outside to greet the gray day,

where ice now collects on our windows.

I scrape it all away for the both of us so we can see more clearly.

Hers takes longer for me to get through. I’m thawed out, but she’s not there yet, so we sit in my car and talk about everything we’ll be.


I kiss her goodbye, hug her a little too long,

and then I drive away to a home that no longer feels like home. She is home now.


I never see her again.


Shawn Van Horn is the author of several short stories and poems and is now working on his second novel. He has been published in Our Time is Now, Wilmington Blues, Fourth & Sycamore, The Oddville Press, Adelaide, Everyday Fiction, and The Mark Literary Review.

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