a woman's hand holding a bottle of lotion


Harley Tonelli

“I don’t know, I just don’t find you that interesting.” You’re in his kitchen. It’s 5:30 but every light in the house is off, so it feels like the middle of the night. He is slicing the ends off of green beans like he didn’t just say something so devastating that it kicked three fluttering palpitations into your chest. You have been doing this for six months now, sitting at this exact spot at the kitchen counter, watching him make dinner. He is very good at cooking and also at saying devastating things. Something is ripping through you and making a home in your throat. He stares you directly in the eyes and you notice that his eyes have changed color slightly since the last time you looked at them. A better person wouldn’t hang around after this statement, would collect their overladen tote bag and the earrings left on the shelf and go. You are not a better person. One of the dogs starts kicking their legs on the couch, whimpering in their sleep. If you took your shit and walked out the front door you’d have to admit that all of this had been a waste, every single piece of it. You’d have to admit that you tolerated the intolerable for the chance that someone might want you. You’d have to admit that you failed at making someone you didn’t respect love you. He wipes his hands on a faded blue dish towel and looks at you expectantly. What he expects you to say in response to this, you have no idea. You are not responding because you are remembering the Halloween party at that warehouse downtown, your second date. He thought you were interesting then. You consider your options: calm response, a graceful exit, rocketing the bowl of freshly cut green beans across the room. “Okay,” you say. “That’s fine.” This is clearly a lie, but the two of you have been lying to each other this whole time, so you do not think too hard about your dishonesty. You fix your gaze on a point just to the right of his head. There’s still time to walk out the door, but you don’t go. Call it gravity or stupidity, some force is keeping you here at the faux-marble counter. The pot simmers on the stove and you tune your hearing to it and only it, blocking out whatever must come after “I just don’t find you that interesting.” You eat dinner together in near-silence. The dog is still dreaming. When you get up from the counter to wash your bowl, you intentionally turn the water so hot it burns your hands.

Harley Tonelli is a poet, musician, and lawyer from Seattle, Washington. Harley is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Washington Bothell in the Creative Writing and Poetics program, and has previously studied at the University of Washington School of Law and Berklee College of Music. Harley is passionate about birds, the ocean, and everybody getting free.