By SEAN BERNARD
The city overwhelmed us. We’d moved to it from a smaller part of the country, fairly rural, though it’s true that even rural parts of the country had by that time much in common with urban centers. In our small town there was a Walmart and high-speed internet and a bar that boasted craft beers from across the region. An intimate and well-known musical venue often featured prominent artists, and, as the woman I lived with always found loudness distasteful, I would attend these shows alone. Being at one, the gathered fans swaying together, made it easy for me to feel like there could be nowhere better. But also, circling the edges of the town, fields ran hundreds of miles in all directions, lush with the green stalks of corn and soy undulating over a landscape that, in winter, shriveled and turned dead, brown, and brittled.
I would find her in winter sometimes sitting quietly in our small house at the edge of town, really a cottage, sitting at the kitchen table, staring out the window. As if we’d set up a feeder and small birds flitted on the other side of the glass. She worked on translation projects, and I would try not to disturb her as I made our lunches—a fried egg sandwich, a coffee cup of wine. Sometimes as we ate, as she picked at the food, she whispered things more to herself than to me, as if in her own solitude, as if she too were on the far side of the glass. Once she remarked casually that we lived like a single consciousness, so at ease with being apart that we didn’t need to work at being together. I was never sure what she meant, as with several things she said and did; she was far more intellectual than me. Usually we were in good spirits. We’d learned a word from a poem she’d done, jeong, a word like love but far larger than love, with layers of compassion, community, ongoingness. We used it loosely, joyfully. What’s your jeong score this morning? Today took a lot of jeong out of me. I can’t wait to compare our jeongs later.
In the country, our jobs were partially remote, an ordinary feature due to inclement weathers. Sometimes we’d spend days in a row without leaving home, in the same comfortable clothes barely fit for public display. Sometimes she hardly dressed. I’d come upon her midmorning, standing at the window in only her underwear, and she’d turn at my intrusion, blinking slowly as if waking from dream.
In the city, we found immediate and severe changes. In the city we had jobs that required looking certain parts, which meant layers of clothing—and this, too, in the city’s long summer, overwhelmed us. I’d get home from work and collapse, coated in an accumulation of grime and noise and stress. I’d sit with the blinds closed and a glass of something cold at hand and feel my body’s heat ticking away. My heart thundered a little less madly minute by minute, and sometimes I fell asleep like that, fully clothed, desperately exhausted, and I’d awaken hours later in the pitch-black evening, gasping for water or for air. Some evenings I worried that the almost physical weight of the city was something only I felt, and I’d ask the woman I lived with if she felt the same. Across the apartment, sipping a beer, she’d assure me it was affecting us both equally.
We lived in a backhouse—a mother-in-law unit, it was called—of an economics professor at a distinguished local university. Our housing search at a distance had gone poorly, and a week before we moved, we were desperate to find a place to live. Then I found the online listing. I called the number, literally crossing my fingers. The voice recording was automated. The professor returned my call the next morning, just as I’d gotten out of the shower. I wasn’t sure I’d heard the ringing, and then I did, clearly, and stumbled nakedly to the phone. The professor said, laughing as I toweled off, that I sounded out of breath—was I really so excited about her little old backhouse? I said yes, of course, and that we were also curious what kind of economics she did, that to us the field was like a mysterious pseudoscience. She said that no one really cared about economics, not even her students, who only wanted high-paying jobs upon graduation. She asked obligatory questions, sounding bored. What were my reasons for moving to the city. Did I have references. What was the stability of my income. You keep saying we, she said. Are you married? I told her no, but we’d been together for some time. Ah, she said.
I think of that conversation now, and others like it, with others who stood at a distance, potential employers, strangers we were soon to meet, anyone who asked, Who are you? and What do you want in life? The woman I lived with was reluctant to share such things; she generally responded to the questioning world with silence. Early in our relationship, I asked how she pictured herself in the future—as a businesswoman, perhaps, or a successful author, perhaps even as a mother. She laughed and told me she’d never understood that notion, people imagining future versions of themselves; the temptation and logic both eluded her. She didn’t say as much, but, for her, I believe, the present moment was more than enough. For me, the city was a new step, a new doorway, and I wanted to step into it with positivity. I answered such questions so sincerely, so eager to adapt and to please and to conform to the strange new expectations that the youth of me was so strong you could smell it—and, in that, I even now feel some shame.
She was gone the day we arrived, the landlord—out to the coast, she’d said in a text. It was a hot day, and as we carried our many boxes through the side gate and the backyard to our new home, the air smelled of dog shit. The yard was patchy yellow grass, no evidence of dogs, save the smell. The landlord had left the door to our apartment unlocked, the key inside the microwave. Each time I brought in a load, I passed a back guest room or office in the landlord’s house that faced out onto the backyard. The window blinds were pulled open. The room had a sofa, a small desk and chair, and a waist-high bookshelf. On the wall was a New York Yankees pennant; on the desk was a snub-nosed revolver that I never saw again. We were renting the one-bedroom apartment set in the rear of the backyard. It was—and I remember this because I requested measurements in advance, searching out furniture to perfectly fit the space—precisely 448 square feet. The entry door led into a kitchenette that then led to a tiny living area with just enough room for a small loveseat and a television stand; to eat on, I’d bought a card table at a yard sale. Other than mealtimes, we kept the table folded against a wall; often, especially when we were apart, we took to eating in bed. The bathroom’s cramped dimensions led to occasional bruised elbows, and the bedroom barely fit our full-size bed; the space was so narrow that I, sleeping on the far side, had to either leap upon the bed or shimmy around the edge, legs brushing both bed and wall, to turn in. In the city, everything seemed to press in upon me.
Our third afternoon, the landlord left a note on our screen door—You Are Invited. The evening prior, we’d seen lights on in her house and more than one shadow passing behind the blinds and the curtains. She hadn’t yet come to welcome us. Did you see that gun? the woman I lived with said. I was washing our cereal bowls. I said that I had.
It was a get-together, the note explained, of other professors and their partners at a nearby home with a pool; parenthetically, the landlord encouraged us to wear bathing suits beneath our clothes. She didn’t offer to escort us or serve as our entry point—she merely wrote, See you there! I was anxious. Just before the appointed hour, I opened a bottle of wine and poured two large glasses. The recommended booster, I said, for waning jeongs. When I said that after all we didn’t have to go, she took a gulp of wine and said that we should—that she knew that I was making a conscious effort to engage with all the change, to make the best of things. She said that she planned to match me, step for step. To jeong, we said, toasting.
We knocked on a Spanish-style door with a life-size terracotta bulldog beside it. The host, a tall, balding British man, showed us thin swords hanging in a hallway past the foyer. And pray tell me who are you again? He said this several times, cheerfully. The landlord wasn’t there, as far as we could tell. We felt like what we were: outsiders. We stood on conversations’ edges. Across the time and space of the house, everyone seemed to be arguing angles of the same topic. The schedule is either followed or we change the schedule, someone insisted. You’re so petrified of litigation, the host said, tossing peanuts into his mouth. In the kitchen, over toothpicked cubes of cheese, a woman in jeans and a baseball cap said to me, I can’t get over the way they came up with the fucking outcomes. No quant reasoning—are you kidding me? Don’t you believe, she said bitterly, that it’s vapid not to want things? I nodded. I never figured out what the topic was.
Our drive to the city had taken us several days, in a packed moving truck. We’d stayed in cheap motels that the woman I lived with found, as we drove, in auto tour books. Each day we drove as late as we could stand, into the darkness of the country, unsure how far we still had to go. Just as we began to grow anxious in the confines of the humming truck, we’d finally see, across the dark plains or valley, the lights of a town. Sad relief rushed over us. We ate meager dinners, slept deeply, woke early. We didn’t stop to see any of the sights—next time, I said, when we’d be unburdened by the material of our lives. I sensed that she wanted to stop, to make it a slower, richer trip. But when I pressed her on this, offering to change our itinerary, she said I was right, that it made more sense just to get there, to get the driving over with.
The second or third night, we’d driven over sixteen hours and were still going through the darkness, far from the next town. Her head was pillowed against the window. She was already sleeping, and, behind the wheel, I wondered if we could safely spend a night in the truck. Then she spoke softly to the dark all around us, speaking about the spaces people lived in, how they could shape people. Could a quiet space make a certain person quiet? Could darkness calm or frighten? She said she’d never before wondered what type of shape would be best for us to live in. The truck felt almost silent. We were the only lights on the highway. I wanted to ask if she was afraid of it all, of moving, of the future—but also, I didn’t want to ask. We were moving because of a job I’d gotten, a chance for me to begin what people call a long career. She’d been able to find a good enough paying translation project for a law firm. She hadn’t ever objected to moving, at least not aloud. But now I sensed, or at least imagined, an unspoken enmity, and I was afraid to know if it was real.
Across the cab, she laughed. Listen to me, she said. Places are just places. To be changed by one, she said, just means that a person is simple. Severe lack of jeong, right?
I nodded and kept driving deeper into the darkness.
She stood for a time at the party alone in the house’s immense great room. A stunning feature of the house was a white brick fireplace that rose to a second floor, and the great room was seemingly windowed along an entire wall that looked out on a blue-lit pool. Uncertain forms moved slowly within its waters. She was gazing at the things around her, at the wall of glass and beyond, and I thought about our tiny apartment, set hidden away, but not entirely so, as we would always be facing the house of our landlord, so that the windows between the two homes were much like eyes. Not that they were watching one another, but they were there.
A man approached her with two glasses of wine. He came from an angle, and she didn’t see him. When his finger touched her shoulder, she flinched. Then she manufactured a laugh. They spoke for a bit, and she gestured vaguely at the gathering around her, as if indicating she was (?) with someone else at the party. She didn’t look to find me. I suspected she knew that I was watching her. As I stood there, the hatted woman who’d spoken to me in the kitchen brought me a beer. She did this nonchalantly: she came and stood right beside me and, as if we were old friends, handed me the bottle. We gazed down upon the great room from our perch in the second-floor loft. She stood close enough that I could feel the heat of her.
The best parts of these parties, she said, is after they’re over. Don’t you think…?
She finished the question by saying my name. When I startled, she laughed.
You didn’t recognize me? she said. That kills me. I’m your landlord.
Later, the three of us walked back home. The landlord, in a laughing voice, was keenly critical of the host. She said he had made a terrible mess of a timeline at work and everyone now basically loathed him; he’d had a serious illness a few years prior, and it was her belief that everyone wished it would recur. And she told us she wasn’t even supposed to be alone at the party—her partner had texted at the last minute, complaining of fatigue. Isn’t that rich? she said, speaking past me. A man complaining of being tired? The woman I lived with smiled politely.
I learned later that past city planners had sought to create charm by planting various trees—sycamores, jacarandas, sugar gums—up and down the streets and avenues so the city would be designated an official “tree city.” Practically, this meant that all the sidewalks lifted and buckled due to pressures from the immense root structures below; after severe windstorms, the damage lasted for weeks. As we walked along, the landlord stumbled at such a rise, and I caught her, my hand pressed to the side of her ribs. Motherfuck, she said, and she assured me that she was fine. The woman I lived with was quiet, so as we walked I played the conversant one. It was easy—the landlord had a sort of looseness that put me at ease. Despite her criticisms of others, she struck me as someone free of real judgment—her critiques were more like mild jokes. Save the one comment, she didn’t address the woman I lived with, and I wondered if somehow rancor had grown between them.
As we neared her house, the landlord halted. Well, if you want to meet him, there you go. We saw the shape of a man sitting on the unlit porch. Next to him were two beer bottles and a pair of work boots, socks spilling from each. He was looking at his phone, so his face glowed. The landlord invited us in for a drink, and the woman I lived with squeezed my hand, and I declined the invitation, and we passed quietly through the side gate, back to our tiny apartment.
We tried to make the best of it. We took a day trip to a famous beach and felt immediately stressed by it all, by the lack of parking, by the blinding sun, by the thick crush of people crowded upon the sand, shouting over each other, shouting over the crashing waves. On a former colleague’s recommendation, we went for drinks at a hotel bar famous for celebrity sightings. The bar was empty. We were woefully underdressed and ignored by the hostess. Finally, thirty-dollar drinks in hand, we peered around discreetly and saw only ourselves in the bar’s mirror. Seeing our reflected exasperation, the woman I lived with laughed, but my scowl only deepened—this, we later agreed, all of it, was just another stress test for our ever-strengthening jeong. We went to home stores and bought small decorative items. On Sundays we made large meals to eat throughout the week, saving ourselves the daily evening hassle of cooking—enormous pots of lentils and braised vegetables and an inexpensive cut of meat—and by Wednesday we’d be sick of it and would guiltily slide the pale sludge into the trash and get pizza. The owner of the pizza place soon recognized our voices and talked at me about baseball when I picked up the food. The woman I lived with began taking exercise classes at the community center and was invited to occasional get-togethers by her classmates, invitations that turned into seemingly spontaneous opportunities to buy things: clothes, jewelry—even, once, boutique liqueurs. She never bought anything, and, later, the invitations diminished. But she still took the classes, or at least said that she did, and she was often gone when I returned home in the evenings, worn threadbare after another day in the unrelenting city. I’d lie in bed and shut my eyes and try to think about her. About us. About our jeong. I worried that we were growing apart, that the city, the vast space of it, was growing between us. Sometimes I blamed it. Other times I remembered her words in the truck and wondered if it was the world that changed us or if the change was already in us, growing but for so long unseen, and all the world did was hasten the inevitable. Our schedules were staggered so that we missed each other in the mornings, too; at a colleague’s recommendation, I’d ordered an expensive pair of jogging shoes, and each day I rose before the heat came down, and on my morning jogs I began to recognize other men and women, which made me suspect that what actually made a home was nothing more than that: recognition.
Once, I crossed paths with the landlord’s boyfriend in the alley behind the house where the trash and recycling bins were kept. I’d folded the pizza box into a smaller shape, an act of efficiency that gave me pleasure. He was peering into the recycling bin, and as I neared, he explained that he’d lost a pair of expensive scissors. He was shorter than the landlord, shorter than most men—maybe five inches over five feet. His hair was cropped close and thinning, and, beneath a pale red polo T-shirt, his arms and neck and torso were heavily muscled. He reached into the bin, tossing things around, and said that she claimed not to remember throwing his scissors out but she never remembered throwing anything out. Anyway he was so glad, he said, that I was fitting in. Transitions could be so hard. How was it going for me? And how was my wife getting on?
Before I could answer, the landlord called out sharply, and he went back to the house. Later, over slices of pizza, I told the woman I lived with about the incident. I made a joke—that the landlord’s boyfriend’s jeong levels were clearly low. How do we recharge our jeong again? I said, smiling in a way that I thought was charming. She was working on a stack of legal documents. I think it’s by being home, she said, not hearing the suggestion in my voice.
Some mornings, I’d see the landlord showering as I was returning from my jog. Her bathroom was on the second story of the house. She kept the bathroom blinds open and toweled off just within, visible to a person at the right viewpoint, a white towel wrapped around her brown hair dark with shower water, patting her body with another white towel. Her breasts were large, such that they sagged a bit, and I imagined stretch marks along her pale skin that led to her dark, large nipples; once she went to the window and peered down at me.
One evening another invitation arrived. I pulled up to the house, late, and the woman I lived with was sitting on the curb. When she said that she needed to blindfold me, I oddly remembered the gun we’d seen. The blindfold was our blue kitchen towel, which, as I wrapped it around my head, smelled of bleach. It’s a surprise, said the woman I lived with, so you have to hold out your hands. I did so, and she laid a slip of paper in my hands. She had me try to guess what it was, and I failed several times, and finally she slipped off the blindfold. It was a zoo membership card. As a surprise, she’d signed us up. We can go any time, she said.
In rural areas, animal refuges tend to be rare. Once we’d visited a squirrel-cage facility with eight different types of cranes. As we peered down the slice of one cell, an African crested crane came running at us, giving us such a scare that we laughed for hours: we were on the other side of the fence; it couldn’t hurt us, after all. We occasionally visited a rehabilitation center for birds of prey that had a blind eagle named Bruce. A private home housed alligators, and for a fee, you could hold the mottle-skinned babies. Once we stopped at a welcome center, a still weekday in late fall, the lot empty of cars. We used the restroom and saw an arrowed sign: Animals. We were in an agricultural landscape, and the fields were post-harvest-empty, the air thin and biting; snows were coming from the north country. We walked through a coppice of cottonwoods and found a series of cages. We stood before three species of bears, two large cats—a Florida panther, a desert mountain lion—and one painfully thin antelope. The antelope slumped in its corner, barely opening an eye. The woman I lived with wept on the drive home.
The next Saturday, we drove to the zoo and learned that Saturday traffic was worse than weekday traffic, as the drive took three trudging hours. When we arrived, the parking lot was immense, the sun unreasonably hot. We accidentally waited in the line for those who needed to buy tickets, not the line for members, and it took us forty-five minutes to finally enter. I was irritable. To my chagrin, the woman I lived with turned down the ticket agent’s offer of a map, and, once inside, we just wandered. This turned out to be serendipitous, as we were surprised at every turn—this large spotted cat, this vulture. In the world, raccoons are pests, but in a cage, drinking water from cupped palms, they’re mesmerizing. We saw three golden alpacas flee into their habitat bunkers; the cause of alarm was a cork-hatted zookeeper calmly strolling with a leashed wolf. The wolf glanced at me as it sauntered past, not ten feet away. I felt a small and fearful thrill.
We spoke excitedly on the drive home about going back often so as to take full advantage of our membership. We’d have to shift our schedules around, the woman I lived with said, to better sync up. We talked about the animals we hadn’t yet seen—so many!—and, as we pulled up to the house, we were giddy. It was early evening. Three police cars were parked on the street, and the landlord stood on her front porch, gesturing vehemently at an officer. As we got out of our car, another officer approached us, and I explained that we rented the back apartment. We were at the zoo all day, the woman I lived with said. I asked what was the matter, and the landlord came up to us, hands raised in frustration. I was fucking robbed, she said.
Burgled, the officer corrected. Burglarized.
I could see insults turning in her mind, but she held her tongue. The officer asked if he might see our apartment, and, without waiting, she led him to the side gate. We followed her across the backyard. The screen on her guest room window lay propped against the house, and the window was open, the blinds in a clutched tangle. She turned our door handle. It was locked. She produced a key and strode in. The officer followed. The woman I lived with and I paused in the kitchenette, waiting uncertainly. The landlord came out of our bedroom and stood beside our folded card table. Nothing here is missing, she said to the officer. Why would anyone break into one and not the other? The officer agreed that this was one of many good questions.
An hour after the police left, I texted the landlord to see if she’d like us to procure pizza and beer so she’d have company and wouldn’t have to worry about dinner. The woman I lived with said this was unnecessary, but I pointed out that we hadn’t seen the boyfriend around in some time—no one would want to be alone right now. The landlord didn’t respond.
How did she know? the woman I lived with asked. Our blinds were pulled, lights off, the room dark. Our air conditioning was on high. We were in bed, eating sausage-and-eggplant pizza to the dim light of the television. How did she know, she said, that nothing here was missing?
It was a busy time for me. I was called in many evenings and weekends, and we never managed to sync our schedules. Even more often, when I’d get home, she’d be gone. It was incredible how the summer’s heat pounded so late into fall, how still at the end of each day I collapsed, gasping. The commute was interminable. I’d quickly lost interest in what had at first been such strange sights: the tent cities, the backyard with three cows, the surprising small mansions in poorer communities. I thought about what the woman I lived with had said about spaces shaping a person, and I wondered if the city was rubbing us down into nothings, blurs against the seething landscape. I was losing weight. I felt thinner and weaker, though the landlord would tell me, reaching after me from her bed those mornings we made time, that I looked better for it. Our affair was nothing—simple lust. It began with her; I just returned it. Her looking down at me from her bathroom, my looking back up at her—a fulfillment of that gaze. I felt a shame in it, certainly, but also I understood that a new part of me had begun to exist in the city. Sometimes she’d ask me about the woman I lived with, how we’d met, the sex we had. She teased me when I evaded her questions, but before I could get angry, she’d have her mouth on my neck again, her fingers gripping my penis, arousing us both.
At first, the woman I lived with didn’t physically change, and at times I even jealously wondered why the city wasn’t squeezing her as tightly as it seemed to be squeezing me. But as the months went on, she shifted more suddenly, more drastically, as if to catch to up me. Her face became gaunt, severe, and her already deep-set eyes seemed farther away. Her small breasts hardly trembled whenever she walked nude from the bathroom to the bedroom. It was at a work party that a colleague I viscerally disliked stood beside me in the kitchen, tonging ice into a highball glass, and whispered to me that he’d fuck her brains out. He hadn’t seen us come in together. We considered her across the room. She sat in a corner, catlike, ignoring my colleagues gathered around a table, playing word games. She looked sad and miscast, a ghost in the wrong house.
That same night, returning from that party, a man sat in the landlord’s backyard, smoking. He greeted us by offering cigarettes. We didn’t often smoke, but we’d had wine and felt in an odd space, and we accepted. He told us he was a visiting professor from Colombia, an old friend, and that the landlord was inside, in the shower, and did we know any good Thai? All the food he’d eaten had been terrible. His name was Carlos. That morning, I’d seen him with the landlord in the upstairs bathroom. He’d appeared beside her, grasping her left breast, and I think they began fucking then and there. She looked out the window, maybe seeing me below, and I almost felt with them in that small yellow room, pushing inside her.
The woman I lived with told Carlos that we were returning from a work party. She said that a strange thing had happened—at the party, a woman had come up to her and put a hand on her leg, just above the knee. I stole this house, the woman whispered. And all these people here.
And to this, Carlos said, peering over the small flame of his cigarette, What did you say?
She said, I told her that I can’t imagine wanting anything anymore.
Carlos laughed. What? Why would you say that?
The woman I lived with set her hand on her knee and gazed at it, as if she were still at the party, still speaking with the stranger. She took a breath and said, Isn’t it want that ruins a person?
I stared at her. She didn’t look at me. Carlos shrugged and peered into the dark. A shadowy cat had hopped atop the yard’s side wall. Carlos whistled, and the cat jumped down and cantered toward us. It was thin and gray, its tail darkly ringed, and it mewed gravelly. He lowered a palm, and the cat pressed its head into it. He asked if we thought the landlord’s ex-boyfriend might have been the burglar. The woman I lived with said she thought it unlikely.
A second-story window opened above us. Stop smoking, the landlord’s voice said.
The window shut. Carlos settled deeper in his chair and lit another cigarette.
My favorite at the zoo was the loris. It lived near the entrance and was easy to overlook, one of several in a series of small glass habitats featuring lizards, snakes, and other reptiles gathered in the size of large but otherwise ordinary household aquariums. The woman I lived with, on one of our visits, led me one early evening before the loris. It was at a members-only event. Other people strolled along, holding plastic flutes of wine. She led me to the exhibit and stood aside, smiling, as if revealing something she’d created specifically for me.
I peered beyond the glass. The loris was a small creature, roughly the size of my hand. It was meticulously created: soft brown fur covered its body, though its face and belly were white-furred. It had a rounded head and rounded ears, a flat nose, and two eyes that together filled half its face, enormous golden saucers with tiny black pupils at each center. It was pulling leaves off a branch, and it grasped the branch tightly in one hand, and the tips of its fingers were swollen like human toes, each studded with a fleck of black nail; with its other hand, the loris stripped one leaf at a time from the branch, crushed the leaf into a ball, and set the leaf-ball into its tiny pink mouth, in which resided upper and lower orderly rows of fine white teeth. On its own it was an astonishing creature to behold. But its motion in particular was mesmerizing. It moved so slowly and certainly that it seemed to exist in another dimension. I watched for nearly ten minutes, which was how long it took for the small operation of removing, balling, and chewing a single leaf. At one point, the loris paused, turned, and stared at me, and I felt like I was falling.
Soon after, she told me she was returning to the town in the country. I joked that she needed a jeong infusion. She didn’t laugh, and I agreed that the transition had been difficult for us both. I offered to, later, when feasible, try to arrange a transfer to rejoin her.
At this empty gesture, she smiled.
Not long after she left, I returned home very late, and the side gate was open. The lights, as was often the case, were off in the landlord’s house. And, too, in our little apartment. The backyard was dim. But the apartment’s door was open. I hesitated halfway across the yard. I couldn’t see inside the open doorway. I wondered what waited within, or who. I felt so afraid that I almost turned around and fled. Yet I had to go in—somehow it was my fate.
Inside, there was nothing amiss that I could see.
At a baseball game I saw him once. The landlord’s boyfriend. In the beer line. I touched his shoulder and he looked at me. I’d been drinking. He claimed not to recognize me, but I was insistent. You do remember me, I told him. I told him that I’d lived behind the house of the woman who taught economics. Yeah, he said, I remember, sure. I told him that I lived with a woman, and, after I described her, he looked at me with an expression I still don’t understand.
Of course I remember her, he said, smiling. She was a knockout. But my man, she was single, she didn’t live with anyone. She lived alone.
And he stepped away, slipping into the crowd.
Sean Bernard’s work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in The Iowa Review and Copper Nickel. He is the author of Desert sonorous and Studies in the Hereafter. He edits the journal Prism Review, is fiction editor for Veliz Books, and serves on the board of AWP.