The Question You Should Never Ask

They looked at each other’s faces. A candle burned between them. They sat quietly talking about love. No one bothered them, but the waiter who brought more wine. Do you love me? Kelly asked. Lorn saw her eyes. He saw the way her hands folded around the stem of her wine glass. He wanted a cigarette, but this was a non-smoking restaurant.I’m getting there, he said. Tears welled up in Kelly’s eyes. She loved Lorn, but he was slow coming to the point. What was she supposed to do now? How could she go on loving him if he wasn’t with her yet?

After supper, they walked to the car and rode home silently. Kelly wanted to say something, but she didn’t know what. She wanted to make Lorn love her, but she didn’t know how. Love comes on its own time.

Home now, Kelly goes straight to bed and Lorn sits in his chair writing in his journal.

I think I hurt Kelly tonight, he wrote. I don’t know how to love such a beautiful woman.


William L. Alton was born November 5, 1969 and started writing in the Eighties while incarcerated in a psychiatric prison. Since then his work has appeared in Main Channel Voices, World Audience and Breadcrumb Scabs among others. In 2010, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He has published one book titled Heroes of Silence. He earned both his BA and MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon where he continues to live. You can find him at

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