Part 10: The Ride
Sometimes I wonder if I could be a sociopath. But maybe the sheer fact that I wonder about it disqualifies me. Or maybe it strengthens my position among the rest, among the best. I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure you’re a sociopath because I caught you lying that one time, and I only caught you because I’m so good at it, too. Sometimes I wish I weren’t, but it’s for your own good! I’m only protecting you!
From me, that is.
You finally stepped back because you knew you’d never be secure here. You finally put up your hands and backed into the dark where I couldn’t see you. I reached and reached but you were gone. I tried to cry out but like in a dream I had no voice. I stood blinking, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the dark, but they haven’t yet. I’m still standing here waiting. I could go forward but I’m not sure how far this tunnel goes and I can’t see a thing. I’m frozen and you’re gone. And I’m starting to pick up habits like dust.
Luckily today the sky is blanketed in gray. The Indian summer has long passed and November is digging in its heels. Rippling clouds with ivory tops and dirty bottoms spread out above me and keep me on the ground. It’s nice, though. It’s nice to have something pressing down on me from up there just so I know I won’t be sucked into some cosmic hole that might open up in the exposed heavens. It could happen.
I’m climbing the stairs to the train platform and pulling my scarf closer to my neck to ward off the sudden cold. Where did this cold come from? Just yesterday we were sweltering in the summer heat. Just yesterday we were standing half-dressed in front of the fan in your apartment. Just yesterday we were in love.
Just kidding. I never loved you. Smoke and fog and clouds are all mixing out the window of this train car as it pulls in and out of stations heading downtown. I’m supposed to go to the 14th floor of some building to interview for a job, for some legal assistant job, but I doubt I’ll make it there. I don’t know why, but I just have that feeling, that feeling like when you know the answer to a question but you ask it anyway.
The man across from me is sitting with his girlfriend. I think she’s his girlfriend, but she’s not looking at him. He’s talking to her, saying things like The worst part is the separation. I missed you so much. He kisses her cheek but she’s still looking out the window behind my head. Her indifference is sharp and I’m glad I’m across the aisle. I want to look away but I can’t. He’s still trying, still talking, still to straining say something that reaches her. Or maybe just something so there’s not silence. Looks like tomorrow it’ll be nothing but the house, the boring old house. But at least I can go to the refrigerator when I want. Haha! It’s things like that you don’t realize. He’s got a large duffle bag next to him and I realize he’s coming from the prison.
How long he was there, I don’t know. What he did, I don’t know. How long she was alone and hating him and yet still here picking him up at the end, I don’t know, but I know she’ll forgive him and it’ll be good—so good!—for a while before he does something else and she’s standing solitary in the cold once again.
They get off at the same stop I do. I rush down the stairs past them so I won’t have to watch anymore. I don’t want to see him try to grab her hand while she shoves it in her pocket. I don’t want to hear him talk about the traffic or the cold or anything while she pretends not to listen. The light is turning red but I run across the street anyways to put some distance between me and them. The legal building I need to go to is two blocks north but I keep walking straight east, straight to the lake. I need to see what the lake looks like today.
Gray and blue and white and spray! I knew it would be excellent. The cool lake air wraps around my face and dots it with water. I breathe in deeply and shut my eyes for a second and detach from everything, from everyone. I knew I wouldn’t make it to the interview.