Edward Hopper, New York Restaurant


“I don’t know why I was surprised every time love started or ended.” Perhaps I wasn’t, not really. Not in those days. I was like the wind blowing in and out of places, and love followed—a gentle breeze or a gale—either way it was here and gone. Until Joe.

We both had worked as codebreakers. All that’s history now, of course, but even now, I can’t give you any details. Enemies remain—secrets, too. I didn’t even notice him at first.

Then one day, I glanced up as he was consulting with a colleague. He looked at me and nodded. I nodded back. Without a word, we had an understanding. Later, we met for coffee…

It’s been thirty years. He brings me coffee every morning. I’m surprised if he doesn’t spill a drop or two. But that will be our little secret.


This is my flash fiction “prosery” piece for my prompt today on dVerse. Our pieces cannot be longer than 144 words. Mine is exactly 144 words. The first line comes from a poem by Jane Hirshfield. 




65 thoughts on “Secrets

  1. Nice, there is just enough mystery to leave me wondering and filling in imagined blanks.

    Happy you dropped by to read mine. I went back in and was able to edit to 143 words


  2. The image is stunning, Merril, a Hopper I hadn’t seen before. I like the way you started with the prompt quote and developed the story from there, like a private conversation, an interview or confession, which drew me in. I like the phrase ‘I was like the wind blowing in and out of places’ and the way you introduced Joe. The code breaker/spy theme reminded me of Mrs Wilson and another BBC series I enjoyed, but I can’t remember its name.

    • Thank you very much, Kim, for your close reading and lovely comments. I didn’t know that Hopper either, but for some reason I was thinking Hopper. (Oh maybe because I recently saw someone produced the famous Night Owls one with all the people gone.) Was it the Bletchly Circle show you were thinking of?

  3. They didn’t have to shake hands or use hand sanitizer to make contact in this fine piece. “Codebreakers” sharing secrets – perfect!

    I was familiar with Hopper’s Nighthawks, but not this one inside the restaurant, which probably contained more than 10 (!) customers.

    • Thank you, Marian. 🙂
      I didn’t know this painting either. I was just thinking Hopper and found it.
      Someone shared on FB the Nighthawks painting that had been changed to an empty diner. I’ll see if I can find it.

  4. Pingback: Love, Deserved | A Dalectable Life

  5. I like your revelation of secrets along the way. It makes it all the mystifying and keeps the story lingering on. Great thoughts in the tale Merrill!


  6. This is so very suggestive … could be 30 years of a marriage or 30 years of an office relationship … an “understanding,” that’s what makes me wonder if it’s a marriage. Funny, Della Street and Perry Mason just came to mind … lol 😉 Well done, Merril! The best stories are the ones that keep us guessing 🙂

  7. Pingback: Imperturbable – Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

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