A Short Story, Maybe
Updated: Sep 18, 2018
Narrow hips darting left and right in perfect time, one white tennis shoe always just a step behind the other. All that can be seen of the girl wearing high-waisted blue jeans is her slicked-back swinging yellow ponytail, like a pendulum back and forth.
She takes up space, but quietly. Her feet hit the asphalt with surety, white on grey and white on grey. Her bony shoulders are drawn back as if to say 'I'm not afraid of what the world will give me', but still she looks as though the smallest gust of wind could blow her over.
Road stretches out before her to an invisible horizon. It is the time of day when the sun teases, glinting gold through the darkened leaves of trees lining the road.
Her ears turn up and I imagine she is smiling. With no one coming towards her, she must be welcoming a memory that has come to greet her, eagerly inviting it to stay.
Her pace slows as she walks away from the road she is on into one of fading clarity. Her steps, less sure now as they lead her into memory, hesitate, but carry on. Left, right, left, right, and all of a sudden she is staring into the familiar long-lashed eyes of a boy who avoids her gaze as his dark cheeks flush.
"How do you do that?" he asks.
She laughs and asks what he means.
He practically whispers. "You give me butterflies when you look at me like that."
She stamps out the beating of wings in her stomach and looks down, now at the grey asphalt speckled with black stains, and she realizes it has started to rain. She feels the wet running from her eyes and leaves it there, wondering if the salt she tastes comes from Heaven's tears or her own.
A stranger so caught up in the tangled chords of his earphones moves past her and then me and now she can't make anyone feel anything because, well, now no one who looks at her sees.
The sun still glimmers but it is no longer warm. The girl wraps her white arms around each other as she continues straight down the monotonous grey road. She's forgotten a sweater. Doesn't she know summer has gone?
As her hands move methodically up and down her arms the goosebumps so blonde they are white move with them.
It is a windy summer night with his hands around her arms. His exude warmth and her body gives in and relaxes at his touch. She breathes into the secure feeling of his arms around hers and feels her eyes flutter. She lets them close and they breathe deeply, together. Neither speaks as the wind roars through the trees in a language truer than the words they know.
She looks at the maple trees with arms spread wide, reaching out with fingers outstretched.
"Was that it?" she wonders.
Will she, like the trees, remain aiming for the sky, ending up only with shoulders tired from carrying the weight of the world?
Her thoughts are so loud she doesn't hear the sound of the quick heavy footsteps overtake first me, then her. She gives a start when she is pushed to the side by a brown leather briefcase and Italian shoes.
She wants to run after him before he becomes just a someone she used to know but he is already in the taxi and she is already in bed and she calls and her throat catches and goodbye and goodbye and. Goodbye.
She stops and counts the seconds for the walking man to light up. Impatient, she bobs up to her tiptoes and down again, and her white ankles expose red lines of bleeding blisters that scream as they are cut open again by the rough edge of a new shoe's heel.
The light changes and she's off again, in search of an end to a story whose beginning she's forgotten and whose end she is afraid to find. Now she falters. Left, right, or straight?