She was tall, slender and blonde.
She sat at a corner booth, alone—
two empty plates pushed aside on the
table, as she shoveled the contents
of a third into her mouth, swallowing one
forkful after another, chewing just enough
to get it down. Her eyes never met mine,
though I stared. They never left the empty
seat across from her, and they looked away
when she passed my table on her way to the
bathroom. I listened, and heard nothing.
But I knew.
After awhile she came out, headed
straight for the buffet line, loaded up
another plate—a precarious mountain…
chow mein noodles dangling from the
edges. She sat down and began again.
I couldn’t look away. It was like watching a
wounded and starving lioness who’d
stumbled across an uneaten carcass,
and had to finish before the hyenas came.
Enough is never quite that. I understood.
I wanted to lick her wounds though I’d tried
that before, more than once.
She could’ve devoured me, after.
That would’ve been ok.
I was starving too.
The pangs were killing me.
She only stayed with us
for a few months—
she was way too smart
for such a low-rent
office gig, anyway
she was quite a bit
younger than I—a millennial
but we had some interesting conversations
and had become friends—
so I thought
one day a library job
she’d been waiting on
and that was that
we walked out to the
parking lot together
on her last Friday
and she looked at me
as she got in her car
Well...goodbye forever, I guess
and then she laughed
at the time
I was taken aback—
it seemed a strange thing to say
such sharp honesty
in a situation
where most people hedge
but now as I recall
other endings I’ve known
I wish more of them
had said Goodbye forever
See you around
Brian Rihlmann lives and writes in Reno, Nevada. His poetry has appeared in many magazines, including The Rye Whiskey Review, Fearless, Heroin Love Songs, Chiron Review and The Main Street Rag. His latest collection, Night At My Throat (2020), was published by
Pony One Dog Press.