StoryLine Issue No. 3 Fall 2021

One month after the lockdown began he watched her walk out her front door with a glass of wine and find the double yellow lines in the middle of the boulevard. The night air was warm, wind rising from the direction of the sea to slide down the street toward the hills. Sodium vapor streetlights winked against the lip of her glass and she stood for many minutes, looking one way and then the other; not a single car or human traveling either way. The city was stilled, people tensed on the edge of knowing and fear as they waited for the virus wave to wash over. She walked over reflective dots a few yards, her skirt swirling in the breeze, and just as he had decided to go out to see if she was ok, she lifted her glass to the sky, black-orange dome devoid of constellations, and she toasted the night. Startled, he reached for his glass, whiskey melting a single cube of ice, and from behind his window he toasted her back, though he wasn’t sure if her gesture was a fanfare or farewell , social reflex moved him to reflect the act. He wondered what she saw that he did not. No planes flew, no one scurried from work to home, nothing but coyotes and nightbirds moved among the shadows. In another time he would have stepped out, exchanged neighborly banter, complained gently about the surreal act of stopping everything. But her toast seemed like it may have been a prayer, the lifted glass a supplication rather than a blessing, and he drew the blinds to let her make her offering to the concrete and silent stars in peace.

— Lisa Dowling 2020

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