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December 7, 2023

She loved Mario because

Amy Marques

when she tried, for the fourth time, to make them afternoon breakfast with tangy orange juice and eggs she’d beaten with a fork until they’d tripled in volume and foamed and frothed with bubbles that popped when she sprinkled the batter with chlorophyll-laden parsley and enough pepper to make the omelet fly clear off the scoville scale, he propped his elbows on the table and set himself to masticate the catastrophic composition, knowing it was a safe guess that his stomach lining would forever be frayed, but reassuring her that it was an experience, and one he had no wish to avoid

although she stumbled in her unbroken hiking boots and collapsed into a pile of corduroy sniffling that she was a fraud that she was a risk that she couldn’t shake the numbing fog that permeated every crevice of her gelatin brain and her tears always came too late, freezing before they fell, like expelled hot air in Antarctica winters, but he brewed calm when he pulled out an old DVD—the one with birds waxing poetic and half-baked plots and paper airplanes that takeoff with troubled mice as pilots—and they watched the improbable story until their laughter thawed the chill that lodged under the skin under her bra under the sweater that belonged to him and belonged to her, and he held her hand as her eyes leaked an elixir of relief

while the solitary ring of lamppost light cast a forlorn sheen on the pavement outside their window and invited her to send wishes, beg-your-pardons, and gritty implorations toward the moonless sky that cosplayed as a black hole revolving around a void that fed on tumultuous needs and wants and dare-not-dreams, that couldn’t stand a chance because he intertwined his fingers with hers, in an impossible calculus that simplified them into more into less, and his presence was like a whetstone that sharpened her understanding, each moment carving a notch in her awareness

as she shivered, tongue darting out to lick her spoon clean of yet another scoop of lavender ice cream, forgetting that she’d sworn off sugar indefinitely, and she knew she loved him because he cradled her cold toes like a penguin cradling an unhatched egg.


AMY MARQUES has been known to call books friends and is on a first name basis with many fictional characters. She has visual art, poetry, and prose published in journals such as Streetcake Magazine, South Florida Poetry Journal, MoonPark Review, Bending Genres, Ghost Parachute, Chicago Quarterly Review, and Gone Lawn. More at

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