she walks into the bar she has had a long day the bar is empty mercy, rare but not completely transient Quasimodo works the bar that is Quasimodo’s job he is not self-conscious, broken, or a veritable introvert; calls himself a regular guy and it’s a regular bar so she gets a regular cosmopolitan She thinks for a long time; thinks of dark aquariums, nightmare zebrafish and seahorses filling up the glass like a demonic television set lit in a vacuum that reeks faintly of saline fish guts; of neon skirts, ice skates with bones for blades; animal erasers, the kind you give to children; broken pianos with whole people banging the keys, destroying because they feel fulfilled, the more desperate souls concealed, wallflowers in a corner; engulfment; isolation; what it means to fracture a piece of oneself, how casts make the skin itch so, how skin burns so quickly and easily and can never change back Quasimodo pours her another cosmo, smiles a crooked smile on his crooked face enjoying the pre-happy hour lull, like a meditation center—wood floors, incense, lit candles— or a steam room empty for the moment of stares at his crooked everything and sob stories from the nine-to-fivers, (god forgive him, they all looked the same—suits, ties, not a crook or wrinkle to be found removable wedding rings and the occasional squirt of botox like a twinkle in the eye but irremovable and grotesque) He turns up Ani Difranco ringing the bells and singing how grace/ has brought/ her safe/ thus far/ and grace/ will lead/ her
Melissa Bobe holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Translation from CUNY Queens College. In 2011, she was a writer-in-residence at the Louis Armstrong House Museum. She founded a creative writing workshop for teens at her public library, and has also taught writing at Queens College and at Rutgers University, where she is currently pursuing a PhD in English literature. Her work has appeared in Anomalous Press, Steel Toe Review, and The Glass Coin. You can keep up-to-date with her on Twitter (@abookbumble).