In Love

In Love

Jon and Isabel were in love. They fantasized while gazing into computer screens at work, imagined the forthcoming weekends as larger than life tableaux across which their love was painted in pictorial detail: crab bisque by weak light at Sparle’s, humid kisses on the taxi’s cracked vinyl seat, legs and fingers clenched under the paisley sheets. They even imagined what they’d feel if they broke up—long, restless nights, the pain in their hearts so sharp they almost cried out—then the debut of a new love in the other’s life, someone they would simultaneously hate and admire. 

There was much time and effort devoted to these daydreams: would his new woman wear Prada? Would she pick up the check, independent and aggressive, traits she sensed he admired but that she lacked? He wondered if her new guy would have a full head of hair. Would he gladly take her to the opera, not complain about the thin plot, the cavernous halls through which the booming voices echoed like the demons of death themselves?

            But they were in love, so their pounding hearts were softened by visions: him refusing his new woman’s predatory overtures in the bed under which her blue leather Pradas, size 10, were propped at odd, unflattering angles; her noting the suspicious weave of her new boyfriend’s salt and pepper hair, the dotted incision all along the hairline. 

            On weekends they sat, staring into the pale sky or the coffee cup, envisioning the wretched fate of the new lover, the interloper, the one they had always known was waiting in the wings.       

Dorene O'Brien

Dorene O’Brien is a Detroit-based writer whose stories have won the Red Rock Review Mark Twain Award for Short Fiction, the Chicago Tribune Nelson Algren Award, the New Millennium Writings Fiction Prize, and the international Bridport Prize. She is also an NEA, a Vermont Studio Center and a Pfeiffer-Hemingway creative writing fellow. Her work has been nominated for three Pushcart prizes, has been published in special Kindle editions, and has appeared in the Baltimore Review, Madison Review, Best of Carve MagazineShort Story ReviewSouthern Humanities ReviewDetroit Noir, Montreal ReviewPassages North, and others. Voices of the Lost and Found, her first fiction collection, was a finalist for the Drake Emerging Writer Award and won the USA Best Book Award for Short Fiction. Her fiction chapbook, Ovenbirds and Other Stories, won the Wordrunner Chapbook Prize in 2018. Her second full-length collection, What It Might Feel Like to Hope, released in 2019, was named first runner-up in the Mary Roberts Rinehart Fiction Prize and won a 2019 gold medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards (IPPY). She is currently writing a literary/Sci-Fi hybrid novel.

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