Spring 2011 — THE POTOMAC

Tender is the Night
  Jen Michalski

When Alex thinks of Matt she thinks of John F. Kennedy Jr., who he looks like, who reminds her of Jackson Browne, mostly because Jackson Browne dated Darryl Hannah before she dated John—John. Jackson Browne's first album was released the year Alex was born. She turns Tarot cards over on the college carpet: Seven of wands, Queen of Hearts, the Tower. Her roommate Leini has Lawyers in Love on vinyl, and they listen to "Tender Is the Night" on afternoons in October, sharing a joint before Leini's six o'clock class. On the top bunk, Alex writes Matt letters while lying on her stomach. She signs them "Tender is the night—Alex." But Thanksgiving break but he is different, wanting to hang out with her brother more than her. They still fuck, in her room when her mother and cousins go ice skating, in the back of his Volkswagen Scirocco, but when she traces his eyebrows, his cheek, with her hands his eyes look past, and she knows but doesn't quite know what will happen. The nights turn cool, the sky weaves an overturned basket. One evening to the way to Giant she runs over a cat. She cradles it, its floppy blood head, and calls Matt. What do you want me to do about it? he asks, and she doesn't know when it all started, how far to turn it back. If the cat were not born, if she.

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