The room is empty as scars without stories when Ben wakes. It is a knocked about box
made of soot, and he tries again to swallow, as if his lips aren’t burned away, as if in prayer.
That first date. Ben saw her auburn hair illuminate color each time she lit a match,
smiled when she smiled, stared at his feet when she let the match burn to her fingertips.
Children were drawn to her in the way sunlight seems drawn to still water. He watched,
and was drawn, too.
When Ben spoke to her, she studied him so closely. He might have been in a hog pen,
not a man with cold, meaty hands in his pockets.
Lonely Ben. The dark lady. Friend of a friend, and then more. This dark lady who will
talk to him. And listen, mouth slightly open.