Rain-slick makes the colours brighter: neon and jewels, trashed by greasy fast food stench and strewn papers and, above the slush of car tyres, sirens, always sirens. I step on stories of murder and terrorism. I grind them to a pulp that I want to fashion into something beautiful, paint and glitter and acrylic jewels: a mini Gaudí urn; if it weren’t for the grit, dirt and germs, the lack of space in our threadbare place, sparsely furnished and still packed. You love the timbre of strings, the lingering echo of violins. You want to know where I’ve been, who I’ve met, never what sort of day I’ve had. I’m tired, hungry. You’ve not made dinner yet. It’s always my turn. You grab and pull me close. Tell me you love me, you’re looking out for me, you worry. But you think I’m lying. The tension reverberates like a plucked cello string. And cellos are always melancholy. I slacken: passive. I feel your fist, like a kiss. The room blackens. I’ll be tomorrow’s headline. I hear violins, sirens. December I was December, pulled you on like a favourite sweater against my chill. You were summer red, arrived on a motorbike to maternal disapproval, ignition for love. I needed you to flush my skin and melt my frost encased heart. You wanted me: blue jeaned rebel, your pillion, your one true love. But fires burn. You wanted to recast me make me porcelain-fragile: a doll you rescued, repainted delicately dress edged in gilt, voiceless, admired not loved. I loved you too much to break what you made of me. It shattered us. When I slip on blue jeans and my favourite sweater that hugs me, like you did, I want to be in your hold again. Dance in the Dark (originally published by Silver Birch Press) I feel like an echo. I wear my siren prom dress, killer heels, scarlet lipstick. My skin ghost. Mind blank. I could thread wire through my sleeves, loop it round the mirrored disco ball, then step out of my dress. Slip away like a spirit. Who’d notice me missing? I want my blue dress. I want my hair loose. I want the shadows of a setting sun. I want our song. I want to feel alive. I want the heat of your skin. I want your kiss. I want to dance in the dark. Somehow I’m settling for shoes that won’t dance, a dress that won’t let me breathe, hair styled, sprayed and pinned, strobes that highlight every blemish, coral imprints on drinks glasses that are too neat, too polite, too good-girl-pink in a hall scattered with rose petals the colour of blood. Bio: Emma Lee’s publications include “The Significance of a Dress” (Arachne, 2020) and "Ghosts in the Desert" (IDP, 2015). She co-edited “Over Land, Over Sea,” (Five Leaves, 2015), was Reviews Editor for The Blue Nib, reviews for magazines and blogs at https://emmalee1.wordpress.com.