The woman you’d hoped to chat up
was nowhere in sight.
You saw her sign in, write her name,
her business on a badge,
look for the cash bar
and spend her last tenner
on a glass of rosé.
A woman like that sits alone
on a sill, hopes the dust
doesn’t line across her skirt
like a poor shopper at the Goodwill.
Yep, there she is. She offers a warm smile
and a toast from across the room,
silently prays save me from the physics
professor also too shy to circulate,
silently prays please have money.
She has bad need for another wine,
and these events have less than kind
bartenders. The 30-second elevator speech,
holy Christ, all posturing and retorts.
She does not want to explain her accent—
New York, by way of Canada
and Waterford, her shame only,
no one’s business. She and her leftover
red heels rush by someone telling priggish jokes
on the microphone, her steps leaving whirlwinds
of carpet fiber in the failing light. You follow.
She has you figured by the elevator. Random stranger
on an expense account, ring tucked in your pocket,
who won’t ask many questions, won’t inventory
the minibar. You’d hoped to meet her anyway.
Now—awake to first light peering through blinds
of a meager room, her name tag’s on the bureau
so you remember her. She is gone, the windy streets
already smelling of Waterford and autumn.
Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and multiple Best of the Net nominee. “Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies” was published by Cholla Needles Press. “Symmetry: earth and sky” was just published by Main Street Rag. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).