Derek Updegraff


They are sitting at a café. This is a story about him and her. That’s all you need. Him and her. But what can happen to him and her? They are not sitting at just any café. They are sitting in a Denny’s on 7th Street. It is 4am. Did they arrive together? They did, yes. Are they early risers, or did they come to the Denny’s after a late night out together? The latter’s expected, so these two—this pair sitting in the glow of Denny’s 4am light, this pair divided on two slick booth seats—got out of bed together, dressed near each other, drove there together, and now they are here, Denny’s cream colored mugs with brown rims on the tabletop, different shades of coffee in each mug, a similar steam from the fresh pour rising, his hands encircling one mug, her hands out of view, and from this side view their faces are not quite visible. Only they can see their faces. We will not see them this time, and when the pair first came into side focus and when the tabletop that must link or separate took shape between them, I was going to tell you that we don’t know why they got up so early, and I was going to tell you that all we know is that one of them will leave the other. Him or her. I was going to say that I would like to tell you otherwise. I was going to say that the only thing I’ve known since They are sitting is that one is going to leave the other while the air stays crisp outside and can be nothing other than crisp outside while they are inside, in some café. And I am wanting to write But look now, sweet reader, but instead I write, But look now, sweet writer, and so I look, and her hands rise from beneath the tabletop, brought forth from her lap, and they settle on the clean surface between them.

Derek Updegraff’s short stories, poems, translations, and essays have appeared in Bayou Magazine, Chiron Review, Rosebud, Sierra Nevada Review, Natural Bridge, The Classical Outlook, Texas Studies in Literature and Language, and other places. He is an Assistant Professor of English at California Baptist University, where he started a BFA program in Creative Writing. A recent interview with him can be read at
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis ( is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit ( and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.