Brad Barkley

You asked me if I believed in magic, and I said yes, and that’s how. You just step out, start pulling your life out of the air. You make friends, you find work you really like doing, you find places. You find diners and Laundromats. You find beaches. You find a junk car and drive it for a month, then lave it beside the road. You find someone to fall in love with you. You make it all up as you go. Or, you know, maybe it makes you up.

I want to show you something,” I say. What?” He dabs at his lips with the napkin, and for a moment I’m wishing so hard that I am that napkin that I can almost feel myself changing, becoming thin and papery and white. “Cal?” I sit back and feel myself blushing, feel it from the tips of my toes all the way to the heat at the backs of my ears.

I pu my finger to her lips. “You have to hush a minute so that I can tell you something.” “What?” she says, bites my finger. I look at her. “I love you.” She gets quiet, the kind of quiet that sinks into her, softens her. “Well that works out,” she finally says, her voice deeper and breathless, her eyes moist, “because I love you too.” She turns, leans against my arm, and settles into me.

Cal,” I whisper into her sleep, “if you go, you know what? You’ll break my liver.” I want to pretend that it’s a joke, that she will wake up and laugh with me, throwing her head back the way she did last night, bit this time the words are true . . . she will break my liver, break my heart, kill everything inside alive inside me.

Any more questions?” I ask, poking him gently in the ribs. “Do you still love me any?” Eliot asks, putting his hand over mine. “A little.” “A little?” he asks, pulling away from me. “A lot.” “How much?” he asks. “More than chocolate chip cookies.” “Mmm” he says, kissing my shoulder. “More than walking on the beach.” Eliot kisses me on the neck. “More than . . .” I pause, turning to look at him. “More than?” he asks, kissing my lips. I turn toward him. “Anything.

You asked me if I believed in magic, and I said yes, and that’s how. You just step out, start pulling your life out of the air. You make friends, you find work you really like doing, you find places. You find diners and Laundromats. You find beaches. You find a junk car and drive it for a month, then lave it beside the road. You find someone to fall in love with you. You make it all up as you go. Or, you know, maybe it makes you up.