In case you came in late —

By Melanie McCabe

It's that scene in the thriller where the woman walks alone down
the rain-flashed city street in teetering, come-kill-me stilettos —

tak tak tak tak — the dead eyes of the mannequins in the empty
store windows waiting for her to reach their glass and peer in

in at the ghost beside them. (Stupid dolt, the viewer thinks, greasy
fingers vanishing, appearing, vanishing into popcorn.) But instead 

she takes her cue to glance over a shoulder at the flatter tap-tap
of wingtips a long block back, the blacker shadow inside that other 

black, growing larger. It's the glisten across her forehead as her breath
picks up the pace of her steps, as it strikes her belatedly that 3 a.m. is not 

the wisest hour for a stroll, that she hasn't got a prayer of putting together
the pieces of the mystery on her own, that someone clacking away at keys 

long before this slated her for a different story, that there is no rewrite, no
chance to wobble in reverse down the pavement now gleaming green to yellow

to red and back into the safe sedan, its radio still playing a tune she remembers
from another day — something jaunty, bright, to clue in those watching

that there is time yet to run for another drink, a smoke beneath the dazzle —
white of the marquee, without missing a moan, a shriek, of what happens next.
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About Melanie McCabe

Melanie McCabe is a high school English and creative writing teacher in Arlington, Virginia.

Her work has appeared on Poetry Daily, as well as in The Georgia Review, The Massachusetts Review, Barrow Street, Quarterly West, Nimrod, Harpur Palate, The Evansville Review and numerous other journals. Work is forthcoming in The Carolina Quarterly and CALYX.

She was a finalist for the 2009 Pablo Neruda Prize.


  1. Megan Sanchez
    Posted July 2010 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Splendid. After a seriously stressful day, a smirk to full smile made its way across my face.

  2. Richard Moore
    Posted February 2011 at 3:35 am | Permalink

    I found you here after finding you on Poetry Daily. What a delight. I’m ready to go back to high school. Do they take 62 year olds?

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