by Mike Lee
They stood on the boardwalk, their hands grasping the railing. “This is the sea,” Terry said. He pointed toward the breakers crashing on the rocks below, swinging his arm in an arc to emphasize its immensity.

Other than a weekend at Cape Cod, Irene had never felt the power of the ocean. Then, it was a distraction, a motif in a difficult time of her graduate school and boyfriend stressors. Here, standing with Terry, it was different. She stood at the shore in the context of a future unfolding. This was overwhelming, and Irene remained unsure.

She surrendered.

Irene grasped the railing, allowing the swirling wind to blow over her eyes, gently brushing her cheeks. What she imagined while listening to Atlantic’s roar was of being in an orchestra pit, the musicians conspiring into an alternative crescendo, taking matters into their own hands, and ignoring the conductor.

She preferred rebellion, that spirit of expression when at a certain age you learn options. Taking detours to magical places, eternally remembered events and people.

Irene raised her head to the breaking clouds, arching her body back. Opening her eyes, she could see through the misted glasses the sun just behind the cover, fighting for attention, demanding to be known.

The afternoon was cold. Irene should have brought her sweater. The white cashmere had been left on the front seat.

The short sleeved cotton top was thin, and the soft flowered skirt was too early for the season. She didn’t mind much. The breeze may be harsh, but its texture loved her body, seeping through the thin fabrics, and seeping into her skin.

“My hair,” she said, turning to Terry. She straightened, letting go of the railing. “Don’t you like my hair?” She smiled at him while she absently twisted a lock.

Terry smiled. “Of course I like your hair. I love it. I love how you styled it to part on the side.”

“I miss my bangs. I’m getting used to that.” Irene paused, adding, “I am glad you like it.”

Her hands returned to the railing. Terry placed his over hers.

“I’m really happy you took me here,” Irene said. She thought of a row of cellos sawing deep into a bass note, falling from the heights of fantastical marble cliffs deep into subterranean caverns. The music echoes dramatically as the conductor grows frustrated, then understanding, and lays down his baton as he allows a new song to develop, measure by measure.

When the song in her head ends, Irene pushed her fingers between his, linking them, holding tight.

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Mike Lee
Mike Lee is a writer, labor journalist and photographer based in New York City. Current and forthcoming publications include The Ampersand Review, Paraphilia, Sensitive Skin, Reservoir, The Avenue, The Drunken Llama, Visions Libres, Glossolalia, Dime Show Review, The Solidago Journal, The Flash Fiction Press, The Peacock Journal, Third Street Writers, The Corvus Review, Eunoia Review, Violet Windows and The Potomac. A story collection, titled All Your Ambition, is published in Germany by VL Editions. Website:

4 thoughts on “Measure

  1. A mood piece about the tension between rebellion and surrender. Music and the forces of nature are symbolically invoked, an interesting device. Irene seems to give up being the conductor. There are a few distractions from wobbly use of tense. AGB

  2. I like the way you present the refinement and delicate feelings of the woman. I love that almost not any action happens, and I love the originality and the perfect adequation of musical mages to translate her soul ‘s pulsions and her thoughts impulsions. I would have taken more of her, him and your writing about them !

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