Can’t wait for summer to be over? Neither can some of us.
Because we want to get a head start on showcasing your best fall  content, we’re inviting new submissions as FEATURED SEASONAL CONTENT across all categories.
Explore O:JA&L’s Buttonhook Press offerings on Amazon.
Subscribe to the O:JA&L YouTube channel.
Become an O:JA&L Member through Patreon.
Follow O:JA&L on Facebook.

V.A. Wiswell

Noon Somewhere

High Noon by Edward Hopper


A bar.
It’s midnight. I’m surrounded by sound. Insulated by strangers.
The door opens. Blowing air in. Dimpling my flesh. Shuffling my spine.
Dark denim and soft leather pull out the barstool beside me and sit. Green-gray eyes meet mine. They smile. Not shy. I’m glad. I don’t want this to take forever.

“Have I seen you here before? You look familiar,” Green-gray eyes say, knowing the answer.

Doesn’t everyone? In the right light? In the dark? I think. “No, this is my first time. I’ve never been here before,” I say, holding green-gray eyes’ gaze.


An office.
It’s noon somewhere. You appear, your suit and tie perfect, your hair a smooth wave, your profile picture pressing against my screen. A genie in a bottle.
White puffs of words float from your fingers and cloud the glass.

“I miss you.”
.           Coaxing.
“Why haven’t you called?”
.           Worried.
“Where are you?”
.           Demanding.

I smile. Too late, I think. I hit ignore, fading you to black. I haven’t forgotten how you left.


Green-gray eyes speak. “Let me buy you a drink. I’m, Does It Really Matter, by the way.”

“Nice to meet you, Does It Really Matter. I’m, No, It Doesn’t. I’ll have a vodka tonic. No ice.”


Never one to be told to be quiet or to tolerate being told anything, you try again.

“Why aren’t you home?”
“You can’t keep ignoring me. It’s noon here. Call me before you go to bed.”

You’re feigning concern. But I can feel your anger. Your words are fireworks exploding across my screen. I pretend not to notice. I’m angry, too.


“A friend?” Does It Really Matter asks, square jaw gesturing at my phone. I demure and push it aside.


The drinks arrive. My vodka tonic. Does It Really Matter’s tequila. We sip. We smile. Certain it’s an invitation, how I’ve separated myself from my phone, from you, Does It Really Matter leans way in, emboldened. He thinks you’ve been silenced. He doesn’t know you at all.

“I guessed you for a vodka drinker. Simple. Straight to the point,” he says.


A line. Another. Clear as glass. I glance at my phone. I can’t help it. I can all but hear you chuckle as though you are next to me, listening to this exchange, couple watching, the way we always do. I stifle my laughter with a swig of vodka.


“Don’t get me wrong. I like it,” Does It Really Matter, adds, lifting an eyebrow.
“And here I thought I was being mysterious. I guess I need to try harder,” I say.

“Not at all. I know I’ve seen you before. Do you live in the neighborhood?” Does It Really Matter says, beating the same drum.

“I live across town, on the hill.”
“What brings you all the way down here on this cold night?”
“A change. New faces, people who aren’t familiar,” I say, opening the door wide.

Does It Really Matter notices. He leans even closer, his hand now on my bare arm. Tequila fume smokes my neck. His fingers rub a roadway up to my shoulder. Where will it lead? I close my eyes and imagine.

But instead of a stranger and a new dance, I see you, your hands moving over me, slow as mercury, your tinderbox tongue heating my skin, searching for hidden doors.


I pull away, taking back my arm from Does It Really Matter. The road between us is a dead end. He doesn’t understand. He smiles, thinking I’m indicating that I’m ready for us to leave. Together.

“I’m just up the street in the new condos on Martin, about a ten-minute walk from downtown. I like being close to work. Makes the long hours easier,” he says, bragging.

Work. Sure, that’s nice,” I say.


His words are a bell—a trigger. Your hands, your mouth, vanish. Your email listing your endless priorities, your excuses, is all that’s left, blaring in my ears.


“I have better vodka in my cabinet, at my place, if you’re interested,” Does It Really Matter says.

I take the last sip of my drink. Vodka slides down my throat. A bird, I imagine. A gullet.  Swallowing everything.

“Sure,” I say. “Why not.”
“Great, let’s go,” Does It Really Matter says, reaching for his wallet.
“Right. Let’s.” Looking into his green-gray eyes, I remember, in the right light, in the dark, everyone is familiar. Everyone is a star.


I gather my phone. The glass touches my skin, igniting the screen.
There we are. Wading in the Aegean Sea, blue and bottomless. Your hands wading into my hair. The water rushing over our legs. Perfect. Together.
Panic rolls in like a fog.
I forget all of it: your email, our fight, and how you left anyway, without saying goodbye.
I grab my purse. Place a twenty by my drink. And stand.


“You’re leaving? I thought we were having fun,” Does It Really Matter calls from his stool.

I titter. Moving and not bothering to look back.


In the parking lot, I take out my phone. I call your name and pull you close.

“Hey,” you say, your voice breaking the sound barrier. Your beautiful face against the night sky. “It’s late there. I didn’t think you were going to call.”
“It’s noon somewhere,” I say, whispering. “It always is.”


About the writer:
VA Wiswell is a writer who lives outside of Seattle, Washington. Victoria’s work has appeared in Writing In A Woman’s Voice and The Lake. She has poetry, a short story, and creative nonfiction forthcoming in Ginosko Literary Journal, 34th Parallel Magazine, and Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine. You can find Victoria on Instagram at @vawiswell.

Image: High Noon by Edward Hopper (1882-1967). No medium specified. 39.5 x 27.5 inches. 1949. Public domain.

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprints Buttonhook Press and HOT BUTTON PRESS Contemporary Issues, supports writers and artists worldwide.

Become an O:JA&L Member through Patreon.


Privacy Preference Center