Across the Room

by Eric Payne

Tiny tables for two covered with white tablecloths span the two lengths of the lounge bracketed by high-back benches and white upholstered chairs. Couples face each other, leaning forward in their seats, talking in low tones over jazz, snatching glimpses of each other when allowed by the candlelight between them. Out of the corner of my eye I notice four women celebrating. I take a minute to watch them raise wine glasses and toast each other as one birthday candle smolders in front of them on a cake with white icing. Curiosity begins to consume me, starting me down the path I travel when I desire a woman's company after the sunset. I rise from my chair, excuse myself from my friends, and move quickly, but calmly, across the room.


Eric Payne was born and raised in Chicago, but moved to Jamaica, Queens after grad school a little more than a decade ago to "make it" in NYC. No longer sure what "making it" means, he now lives just outside the city with his wife and kids — his nightly retreat from his marketing job in Manhattan. Having become a bit jaded from dashed youthful enthusiasm, he no longer remembers which literary magazines published his earlier writings. He is the author of a barely edited book of poetry and short stories entitled "I See Through Eyes," and his work has appeared in Spindle Magazine and DiddleDog. Visit Eric's blog!