He followed them into the coffee shop but didn’t even like coffee. He just thought the girls were cute and was tired of weekends with no plans.
“What can I get you?”
It took him a moment to realize the barista was talking to him, so he froze. He hadn’t thought this through. It was all about the girls.
“Um…a cup of tea, please.” He didn’t exactly love tea, either.
Shit, there were kinds? He was lost. The barista tapped his foot, then pointed to a list on the wall. Breakfast? Oolong? What the heck is oolong? What does that even mean? Ginger tea? What the hell?
“Uh…plain?” he replied.
“We have 16 ounce and 24 ounce.”
Shit. “16 ounce, please.”
The man made the tea and handed it to him.
The girls were gone.
Glenda walked around with her watering can and when she saw the white of the stone out of the corner of her eye she did a double take. There it was, a statue on top of a small mound where yesterday she’d removed a dead flower.
She approached the statue and took a good look at it as some water spilled from the can she now tilted towards the ground. It splashed her slippers but she failed to notice. All she could do was look at the statue, a little boy with no clothing who seemed to be praying. Upon closer look, Glenda saw that he held his hands in a manner that wasn’t exactly praying; she couldn’t decide what he was doing.
A bird landed in her birdbath and startled her back to reality. She looked at the bird, a blue jay, and then returned her gaze to the small statue, which for some reason surprised her by still existing.
She walked over and picked it up. The stone was cold in her hands, which would have been normal had it not been sitting in the sun. It was heavier than it looked, much heavier, in fact. She turned it around and saw it’s little behind, then quickly turned it upside-down to look under the pedestal in an attempt to ignore the blushing of her cheeks.
There was writing carved into the pedestal, but it looked a bit like hieroglyphics. Unsure what to do, she carefully placed the statue back onto the little mound of dirt and continued watering her plants. As the water ran out of the end of the can, she paid no attention to the amount each plant received; instead, her stare remained on the statue.
Once the garden was properly watered, and the bird feeders refilled for her friendly neighborhood avians, she went into the kitchen, where she began to wash the small pile of dishes in her sink. The window above the sink looked directly into her garden, and she could see the little boy’s smile. His face looked so familiar. She’d seen it before, perhaps in a dream, but she couldn’t place it. So familiar…
That night, as Glenda began to drift away into sleep, in those moments in half-dream, half-awareness, she dreamed of her son, a mere boy when he died. The accident was something she tried not to think about in her old age, especially since her husband was gone. But she dreamed of a day on a swing set that may or may not have actually happened; Glenda could not be sure. She saw his face and the smile as she pushed him higher, the grin looking so familiar.
She jumped from sleep and quickly threw on her robe. She knew where she’d seen the face before. It had to be him. She ran through the kitchen to the back door, where she threw on the porch light and ran to the garden.
But the statue was gone.
I walked into the subway station and there she was, behind a pillar, crying hysterically. I mean tears running down her face, red eyes, and stumbling a little, which made me think she was drunk. Was she? Who knows.
Then I saw the broken pieces of glass shattered everywhere, with a pool of clear liquid surrounding them. The bottom of the bottle, still intact, rose from the liquidy shards like a miniature mountain. For once, the subway didn’t have that dank smell created from too many people shoved into an underground room.
Instead, it smelled of liquor. Purifying, clean liquor. It would have been a nice change if not for the tearful twenty-something sobbing without control.
I assumed she was drunk, hence the stumbling, but as I sat on the subway, I tried to put a better spin on it. Maybe the bottle was a gift for someone. Maybe it was an expensive gift, one she saved for, to impress a boyfriend, or girlfriend, or best friend or boss or lover or some other kind of person important to her life.
That kind of broke my heart, so instead I went back to my original thought. She was drunk, wanted to keep the party going, and would have to figure out another way to do so.
There’s nothing like getting to work in the city with time to sit and read in the park, especially on a brisk Fall morning.
A child runs in circles through the leaf piles, enjoying the crunch of his feet on the brown leaves.
Two dogs sniff each others’ butts as their owners catch up with small talk.
Music reminiscent of a Chinese Food Restaurant plays by the George Washington statue as a couple does yoga.
A mom plays with her son in the recently-emptied fountain, watching her son run in circles around the cement wall that holds him in place just as it would a pool of water.
And I sit, reading, looking up every once in a while to watch the beginning of other peoples’ morning. What a lovely way to start a day.
Photograph by Haylie Maxine Photography
“Nice sunglasses,” Tory said to Oliver. “They’re so you.”
“I can recognize your sarcasm, Tor. We’ve only been dating for seven months now.”
“I’m so proud of you for finally becoming fluent…”
He took the sunglasses off and placed them gently on her mother’s coffee table. The mirror on the wall beckoned him to check that his tie was straight; this was after all prom night. His first prom. It was actually only the second time he wore a tie in his whole life. And while he would never admit it to Tory, his dad tied it for him.
“You look nice,” she said as she hugged him from behind and helped straighten the tie. “The suit is very you.”
“And the sunglasses?” He went to pick up the white framed glasses but she snatched them up from the table before he could.
“Too slow!” She threw them on her face with a giggle. “Look at me! I’m Ollie. I’m so cool!” The goofy grin on her face was bad enough, but then she started making peace symbols with her hands. “Guess who I am!”
“Shut up!” Ollie said as he pulled them off her face. “That’s not what I look like!” She smiled at him, the one he always called her winning smile she used when she could tell she’d gone too far, and then put out his arms. She nestled into them and put her head on his shoulder.
“Okay,” he said with a grin. “Let’s go to prom.”
Photograph by the talented Haylie Maxine Photography. For more information/images check out her Flickr or like her on Facebook.
On a daily basis, Richard got behind the wheel of his car to go to the office, and also daily, he would reflect on his life and the wrong turns he made. She was gone. Long gone. But he still didn’t feel any better.
As he went through green lights turned yellow about to turn red, he wondered the chances of a truck running it and ending it all for him. He had not the guts to do it himself, so he hoped for a Mack Truck to finish him off. Richard lacked the patience for improvement in his happiness; little did he know it was just around the corner.
Years later, once his life was together and he had a wife, two children and a happiness he never knew existed, his wish would come true.