julia ruth smith

First We Take Manhattan

Lena becomes more beautiful each time they put needles in her eyes. The doctors tell her to live it up. From a sailboat, smudged ruby lipstick, flaming hair, palms to the wind, she waves in slightly the wrong direction.

I could envy her new starts and leaving, but the facts are brutal. I wish myself brighter. She slams to a stop; views her son in fuzzy fractions. One day he will not be there at all.

Watching the ocean she asks me if it’s flat; she says she sees the New York skyline. I’d like to wrap the horizon around us and tell her we’ll both get there eventually.

We walk miles together; she listens intensely, holds my hand. We reach a small wood where she stumbles on dappled light. My tears come then and I let them. If she cried too it might wash away her fear; it could lessen mine.


Julia Ruth Smith (she/her/hers) is a teacher, mother and writer of small things. Emotional and exaggerated, she loves the sea. Her writing can be found in Full House Literary Magazine, Anamorphoseis Magazine, and soon in Sledgehammer Lit. Scatterings of prose and poetry elsewhere.