I’m standing on the corner, waiting for the light to turn, the traffic to pass. The leather handles of my purse strain against my curled fingers. Thumping bass from a passing car paces my pulse. Fumes from a bus cloud the air, sting my nose. Red turns green. I step off the curb and continue on my way.
The city streets are familiar, comfortable and easy like a worn in slipper or tattered t-shirt. My body fits into the curves and folds of the urban landscape. I ignore the buildings but notice flowers dripping out of window boxes. Freshly watered, splatters stain the sidewalk a deeper shade of gray. Halfway down the block, I stop, lean forward and inhale the smell of spring bleeding into summer. My lungs fill with the sweet scent of blossoming buds.
I stay there, frozen, eyes closed. A collection of scenes play across my lids. Here’s that time after the concert when we grabbed cheesesteaks at Geno’s. Remember that family in front of us, the way they stressed about how to order? The scene fades to black, the reel is changed. And here’s us at a bar throwing back cocktails and chatting up a poet to my left. The scene fades to black, another film is loaded. And this, this is that day we sprawled out on my sofas and talked about what was really going on.
You’re flat on your back, legs stretched straight and head propped on a pillow. I’m on the love seat, curled on my side with my legs pulled close to my chest. My head rests against the arm, my cheek embossed by the chenille texture. Beads of sweat collect on the outside of a glass, puddling at the base like a makeshift moat. You mention details, admit confusion. I listen, probing sometimes, supporting always. It’s what I know. It’s all I know. I soak it in, swallow it down. Never questioning, always accepting.
Stop, rewind, play.
Hear the words, listen for the pauses
Stop, rewind, play.
Question the facts, identify the fibs.
A car horn blares. A firm fist pressing against the wheel screams the alarm without pause. I open my eyes, focus. I stand up, stretch my spine, tighten my abdomen. I’m even with a windowpane, my reflection clear in the glass. I relax my clenched jaw, watch how it loosens my cheeks, softens my eyes. I swallow the saliva pooling beneath my tongue and start walking again, moving in the direction of sizzling mussels and chilled Hoegaarden. One foot in front of the other, I turn the corner, walk the last stretch. Tables and chairs are set out on the sidewalk with diners already in the middle of a meal, partaking in a conversation. Forward, I go, walking to the rhythm of the city’s beat. And as long as I move forward, I know things will be fine.