“What ever possessed me to do that?” prompt
May 7, 2015 § Leave a comment
“What ever possessed me to do that?”
“He seemed nice.”
It’s five AM and I’m waiting with a woman I don’t know at a Metro stop somewhere in Southeast. The night is slowly changing from fake, hazy streetlamp light to the natural glow of the sun. It’s somewhere, but not here exactly. Felt, but not seen. The street lamps dim.
“It was silly.” She’s lit a cigarette now, and she spends a long time inhaling, inhaling, and I watch her cheeks bulge, bulge, bulge, and then deflate with a cough. “Silly.”
I say nothing. I feel nervous that it’s 5 am now. I like the Twilight Zone time in the city, when the young people have finally dragged themselves to bed and the old people have yet to rise. When there’s only a few beat-down strangers still roaming, searching for something the others aren’t, or at least have put off looking for until tomorrow. That dimension is fading now, fading like the street lamps. The day is coming, and that distant glow of the sun feels mocking. Not so much to me, but to the regretful woman next to me on the cold stone bench.
“Men,” the woman says now, but it feels like a wasted word, one you let tumble out and quietly die, one you only said to say something, and we both sit awkwardly in that tension for a moment.
“Man,” she corrects herself with more assurance. I nod.
“He seemed nice,” I say again. He did, I think. He really did.
“Everyone seems nice then,” she says, and I nod again. They do, I think, they really do.
Because earlier, in the Twilight Zone hours, when I was sitting quietly next to this woman on the cold stone bench, it didn’t feel as cold. The vodka felt warm, and so everything felt warm. The woman humming next to me on the bench, bobbing her leg and so bobbing her little fur booty and the little brown tassle that hung from it, the early morning wind that rustled litter in the street, the man in the long trench coat with very little hair that asked us to dance. And everything felt closer, too. The stars were not years away, but maybe just a week. They were well within our reach, and they shone on us like stage lights while the man twirled us around until we fell in lovely confusion. “Upsey daisy,” he said in a way that was both light and gruff, and he was so close, and so warm, as he scooped us up, tickling us with the very little hair he had above his lip. Time and space were upsey daisy, with the stars close enough to singe my hair and the man’s lips close enough to touch.
The sun was coming out.
We had missed the train.
“There’ll be another one soon,” I say. More awkward words that tumble out and stare at you in reproach till you look away in shame.
“Fifteen minutes,” she says. She nods towards the board mounted on the wall across the tracks.
The neon number 15 burns my eyes.
“And it will be here,” I say, and I think to myself, if a train says fifteen minutes, it won’t be here in thirteen. It won’t be here in twenty. It will be here in fifteen, and that’s that.
The neon number burns 14 now. It is all that has changed.
We sit. The woman sighs. She tosses the cigarette in the tracks. We watch the embers glow and die. 14.
The day dawns.