“I can’t believe your dad did that.”
“I know, and on my birthday.”
These words clung to my brain, circling, circling. I could not escape the trouble of what a father had done to his daughter on her birthday. Had the soft path ended beneath her feet as it had for mine?
“But anyways, people will just have to message me on Facebook.”
“What a jerk, its not even his phone, he shouldn’t be able to do that.”
As the buildings paraded passed disenchanted windows, my mind snapped. HOLD IT. STOP. Communication, yes that is important. Yet where is the actual heartbreak, the need for something other than spoiled eggs under a hot sun. This is what these children are, spoiled eggs under a hot sun.
“I mean, I was going to pay the bill, I just forgot about it because of my birthday, and Justin.”
“He should have just paid for it, so what you went over your minutes, everyone does that.”
Pointless eggs that have nothing to do but rot.
My back molars compressed, and my eyes roamed elsewhere. I felt the eyes of a young woman. I turned my head slightly to catch the edge of her cheek turning away. The man she sat with, with his dark eyes, and untold lashes searched for something beyond the glass. As he licked his lips the corners of his mouth curved up ever so slightly. Yet not in any kind of smile that my eyes had set upon. He took a sip of his coffee, and loosely looked over at the woman. He seemed to feel her nervousness. They looked with small sympathy at one another, and I wondered what the difficulty was. He looked away, exhaling viciously into the stale air. The hesitant couple shambled off the bus. Her last utterance of “thank you,” flirted with the young man that I had hoped would be reflected in the glass before me. But was the “thank you” for anyone but the ghosts left to hear it, lost in their chambers of adolescence?
Regardless, the bus driver drove on.
I resolutely checked my watch, the hands ticking with fascinating determination. I looked up and to the side to see a cluster, a vacuum of wasps consumed by their phones, and countless forms of technology. If only they would move, and let the poor bus breath in the passionless winter air.
Oh passion, that which I have not felt for years. One morning I awoke to find her warmth leaving even the sheets that surrounded her. Thoughts of her slipped through the fingers of my mind. I could not remember her face, only her paintings. I could not water her dead plants, as they had become a ruin, but not a ruin of Europe.
Sitting in the seats designated for the decrepit, the mothers, and the disabled (aren’t we all disabled), I peered out the window for my stop. My fingers wrapped around the yellow cord, and my loose muscles ached with a tiredness that had been worn throughout the years. The “Stop Requested” light lit up in its red urgency. I always feared that the driver would keep driving, missing my stop. Every time the scene would flash before me, time would slow down, as if in a dream where your fingers can never grasp the shining doorknob.
I stood beside the driver, my eyes watching him anxiously. After tumbling through the intersection, his foot met with the brake, and the bus stopped as I hoped it might. My cane met with the sidewalk as if with an old friend. I continued along the undecided path, the wet snow clinging to my shoes, resolute not to be shaken off.
It had been ten years since the move to the city. As my fingers converged with the cold steel of the railing, her voice rang into my ears. She always hated moving, so much so that she took any excuse to jump in the van for a sandwich and coffee run. “One or two creams?,” she would ask, with her head poking out of the car window, while Simon and Garfunkel transversed through the speakers.
I hummed the finest part of “The Sound of Silence,” as my foot collided with the hard, ice encrusted step.
Hello darkness my old friend.
The key sailed into the metal bed of the lock, and as I opened the door, cold fingers grasped desperately at the collar of my coat.
I’ve come to talk with you again.
I must have left a window open. She always felt that the stagnant air was too much for her ears, even during the months when snow blanketed the earth. It must be the simple habit of sliding the pane aside, like an added cup of coffee left to collect dust at the breakfast table.
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping.
As I stood in the kitchen, with the evening sun kissing the dishes pilled in the sink, I removed my coat, letting it rest on the back of a chair. Peering into the fridge, I saw that there was nothing meant for the lips and tongues of humans. Only that which is for the bugs, and the smell that transcends the fridge door.
I climb the stairs, feeling the reach of the carpet, even through my wool socks. The sun is no longer shining through these windows. I walk into the office, removing my leather belt. Lifting it above my head, I cinch it tight so the band tugs at the loose skin on my neck. I mark the spot with my finger, and spread the belt down across her desk.
It had been a long time since my crippled form had walked into this room where I had once felt young. On nights when the girls were out, we would dash around the house gathering blankets and pillows. As I spread the blankets down, I could always hear her in the kitchen pouring the whisky. Drawing the blinds closed we would lie on the quilts, with their spaghetti stains and cookie crumbles. Sipping her whisky she would tell me about her day: her patients, her mother that always seemed to call when no one was home, and the things that broke her heart to see. As she spoke I would cup her face in my hand; she always fit so perfectly.
I dug a letter opener into the leather, forcing a new hole that could not fit the smallest of waists. Reclining in her old wooden chair, I pulled the belt tight. As I secured the buckle the phone began to ring. I sat and listened to the sound bounce off the walls. It didn’t seem to stop until I closed my eyes. Only then did humanity hush under the weight of my lids.