“There was something behind me, shrouded in

cigarette smoke, maybe it was my innocence,

or maybe it was you.”

—        manilalight


They were sitting by the river. It was a busy night, the air hot and heavy with humidity. People were spilling out of restaurants and bars, and there was noise. So much noise.


She looked over her shoulder every few minutes. Jumpy and weary. The later the night dragged on, the more worried she got. She fiddled with the frayed hem of her flared jeans, one leg tucked under herself, the other dangling above the dark ripples.


The lights were bright and loud. Pink, yellow, blue.


He sat next to her, quiet and still. His light blue jeans worn and weathered under a soft grey T-shirt. Smoke floating and circling them both from between his fingers. She hated it when he smoked. Hated it even more when he did it around her. But sometimes he’d suck in a lungful and grab her around the waist, fit his lips over hers and dip her low.


He breathed the last puff and flicked the butt into the darkness below. He turned and caught her frown. Chuckling, he wrapped an arm around her and whispered, “There aren’t any fishes down there to kill, doll.” She squirmed out of his hold.




They’re sitting by the river. It’s past midnight, late enough that most of the revelers have headed home. A few stragglers remain, loitering under the streetlamps. It’s quiet.


The lights are dull and warm, and her eyelids are heavy. She leans on his shoulder, on that soft T-shirt, so warm and welcoming. She can’t remember when he put his jacket on her. The olive bomber thick enough to ask as a cushion as she scoots aside and lies down in his lap. He looks down in mild surprise, but her eyes don’t meet his. They’re staring past him, into the sky and its few stars. He follows her line of sight and tilts his head up to gaze, releasing a cloud of grey. He looks back down and scoffs.


“Thought you weren’t cold?”


She just smiles, the curve fading as quickly as it appeared.


He buries his face in her neck and inhales. She always smelled so nice – floral and clean and slightly sweet. She pats his cheek lightly.




She’s sitting by the river, long legs tucked underneath.


The cobblestone pavement pressing patterns into the bare skin exposed by her short dress. A bottle of cold beer in her hand, dangling over the swirling water. It’s a slow night. People are sluggish – diners chatting languidly in hushed voices, pedestrians walking with nary a murmur between them.


She hears hurried footsteps approach, heavy and demanding. He drops down next to her and she can feel the heat radiate off him. And his scent. It fills her senses, woodsy and warm and slightly musky. He leans into her as he empties his pockets: keys, wallet, phone, a pack of gum. He straightens and looks straight out, across the river. Then he turns and kisses her. Hot and gentle. His hands curve to the contour of her cheek and slide into her hair, tugging it free from the rubber band. She squeaks in protest but the black band is already on its way down, free-falling into the water. She frowns in half-jest, puts a hand at the back of his neck, and tugs him toward her. His hands find her waist, gripping it tightly. She moans and gasps, the sound unbidden and unintended. She colours furiously, face and neck turning scarlet.


He rises, holding a hand out. As soon as she’s upright, though, he hoists her onto his back and takes off, laughing. She lets out a scream and laughs along, their voices bouncing off the empty buildings and down the streets.


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