Her Night Off

Reading Time: 4 minutes


“You’re going?”


“No apology necessary. I just wanted to take you out to breakfast in a bit.”

“Oh, that’s really sweet, but I can’t, I’m sorry.”

“That’s alright. Can I call you a cab then?”

“Don’t trouble yourself.”

“It’s no trouble. I want to make sure you get home safely.”

“I live really far away.”

“What, like, New Jersey?”

She couldn’t tamp down her laugh. It puzzled him. “Even further than that.”

“Oh God, I’m an idiot.”


“You’re trying to be polite, and I’m harassing you.”

“Josh, no.” She returned to his side and cradled his face with her hand. Their skin made the most beautiful of contrasts, his caramel against her alabaster. “I wish I could stay, believe me.”

“Is everything okay at home? You’re not in danger, are you?”

“No! No. I was supposed to head back earlier, and I have work soon.”


(Illustration by Mitchelle Lumumba from an Image by Anja from Pixabay)

She kissed him soundly, leaving no room for doubt when she spoke next, “I had the best time tonight.”



“So it wasn’t just me?”

“Not by a long shot.” An unexpected wave of emotion crashed over her. “But I’m sorry, I have to go.”

He reached for his phone on the bedside table. “Any chance I can get your number then? So I can properly take you out?”

She nodded and concocted a string of numbers to relay. He watched her in silence as she slipped her shoes back on.

“Promise I’ll see you again, Selene?”

“Before you know it.” Not a lie, but it wasn’t exactly the truth either. He would see her again in a matter of hours, but he wouldn’t recognize her.

Josh chuckled. His smile was wide and inviting. It was almost enough to make her stay. She almost kicked off her shoes and dove back into bed with him. This man who’d been exceptionally kind to her, who’d made her feel less profoundly lonely. But the thought of the others noticing she was gone promptly stopped that train of thought. Surely, her sister, who was about to appear, would’ve already noticed. And if her brother found out…

She settled for pressing their lips together once more.

“It’s still pretty dark out, you sure I can’t call you an Uber?” The sight of Selene in her now-wrinkled dress caused an implacable sadness to sweep over Josh.

“I’m tougher than I look, I promise,” she assured him. “But thanks.”

He sat up. “Yeah, of course.”

“Thank you,” she repeated. She couldn’t fully articulate what for, but he seemed to understand nonetheless.

“I’m glad you–that you feel the same. Let’s do it again some time.”

“I would love to.”

“I’ll text you.”

Selene slipped out of Josh’s cramped studio before he could catch sight of the tear escaping from her right eye.


Dawn’s light was just beginning to kiss the horizon when she emerged out onto the street, not that it mattered much in a city like Manhattan. It was why she’d chosen to come here, there was so much ambient light, one could feel as if it was the middle of the day even in the depths of night.

Her heart ached with each step she took away from Josh’s apartment. Despite her careful planning – absconding during the Black moon, when neither her family nor the mortals would notice her absence in the darkness – she felt tragically foolish. She hadn’t only deceived Josh tonight. Of course she’d get attached to whom she spent the night with, it had been so long since she’d felt another’s warmth against her skin. Her devotion to her husband had waned. The weight of eternity had settled onto her as the years passed, and she found it increasingly difficult to love someone who was wholly incapable of reciprocating it. She hadn’t wanted to be unfaithful, not that it was anything new or scandalous among her kin, but Selene had just been so lonely.

It didn’t help that her position was innately voyeuristic. Night after night, she watched the mortals, envying the excitable urgency of their short lives over the stifling monotony her endless one had become. Watching wasn’t enough anymore.

Selene had many fantasies regarding how she’d spend her night on Earth, but meeting a mortal who was self-effacing yet confident, tenacious but not domineering, hadn’t been within them. Never in her wildest dreams did she expect to find someone she’d leave the sky for. Although Selene could escape her role for a night, she could never forsake its responsibility long-term. She shuddered at the phantom chill the thought sent down her spine. A world without its moon? Unfathomable.

She crossed the threshold into Central Park, a spot where most women wouldn’t dare to go at this hour, but Selene wasn’t most women. None of the threats that lurked in the waning darkness could harm her.

“Oh, my patient darlings,” she greeted her steeds as she approached. They’d waited for her precisely where she concealed them at nightfall. They whinnied and stomped in delight at her return. “Alright, shhhhh, it’s time to go home.”

And with that, Selene boarded her chariot, whispered a gratitude to her sister for prolonging her presence, and disappeared back into the pastel sky.


She hadn’t texted him back. Josh knew it was stupid to be so disappointed. He’d come on too strong. Again. Even though it’d only been one night, he felt something special with Selene. No, that was stupid. He felt that what he felt with Selene could’ve become something special. Perhaps that was why he was having such a hard time bouncing back from her tacit rejection.

Josh found a strange solace in the moon, though. It was a peculiar consolation that even though he had no idea where she was or if he’d ever see her again, at least they both gazed at the same celestial body. He didn’t know that Selene had kept her promise, however, and was gazing right back at him.


This story previously appeared in The Icarus Writing Collective.
Edited by Mitchelle Lumumba.


Victoria Male (she/her) has worked in creative development at The Montecito Picture Company and Graphic India. Her prose has appeared in a dozen literary magazines, including oranges Journal, The Chamber Magazine, Carolina Muse, The Icarus Writing Collective, and Retrospect Journal. She can be found at her website https://www.victoriamale.com