Cynthia by Lauren Turner

I walk up the steps to the apartment where we live, beside the college. Everyone who lives here attends the college, except you. It’s autumn: your stack of scarves almost entirely obscuring your face, but I know you’re in there. Last week, you left a series of notes on the walls admonishing your fellow tenants for coming in too late, too loud—and in turn, my friend and I took them down, watercolored on them, and put them back. You and I do not speak of the notes, but pass by them in the stairwell in stark, single-file silence. We reach the third floor and I hurriedly peel off into my place, because tonight I am planning to fall in love. You begin practicing your scales, wobbly opera penetrating the thin walls. I see ladybugs on the ceiling again, and wonder if your vibrato is shaking their tiny bodies; if that’s why, every now and then, one drops onto the rug. Once, you told me without warning that you liked to sing to your lover. Are we all planning to fall in love, Cynthia? It’s late. The floodlight in the fire escape is orange. There’s a bird flapping around in the beams above when my love and I finally say hello. Everything smells of your menthols.


Lauren Turner is a writer and musician (Lou Turner) in Nashville, TN. She is the author of Shape Note Singing (forthcoming from Vegetarian Alcoholic Press in 2021). Her poetry, essays, and interviews have appeared in Image Journal, Cathexis Northwest Press, Chapter 16, and more. She serves as a blog editor for the freeform community radio station WXNA FM in Nashville, where she hosts her literary program, “The Crack In Everything.” Her recent album Songs for John Venn was called ‘quietly imaginative’ by NPR Music.

Photo by Jen Theodore