Fiction: Scene From an Imagined Life

Sinking down into the hardness

 of the seat on the “El”

 I close my eyes and

try to rest as the humidity climbs

and the rocking of the train

lulls me into a false sense of peacefulness.

In the darkness, the world roars past me

and for a little while,  I am not thinking, not feeling…  

I just exist on this train.

Sudden stops and doors opening and closing.

 

Legs of lead carry me home:

 past a sea of featureless faces.

 past brilliant neons, the billboards,

past the blinking stop-and-go lights of city streets

where rainbows glisten

on oil-slick macadam in the warm summer rain.

Past smoky bistros that buzz with chatter

Where saffron-colored notes float in the jazzy air

and sidewalk cafes are filled

with couples sipping wine, red and white.

 

 

Opening the door to our brick row house,

my gaze falls upon a room

filled with wilting flowers,

a subtle reminder of the beautiful life

that seeped away as if drop by drop.

The easy days when we were a family

before I decided he had to leave,

those final days, long and sad,

when I just couldn’t breathe anymore

without mechanically making it happen.

 

I hear footsteps on the flagstone –

light footsteps running, running.

I turn towards the door,

 smiling through a wet mask of tears,

 knowing that soon I’ll have to

split my time with him

and share this curly-headed mass of sunshine

that now is bursting

through the door of the kitchen,

hurling himself into my waiting arms,

wrapping himself around me,

asking me if I had a good day.

 

I pour him a glass of ice-cold milk

and offer some sugar and butter cookies

that Grandma made for us.

Perhaps a ripe, red apple for me

and a cup of herbal tea to help me relax.

I look at the mouth edged in cookie crumbs

and a milk moustache up to his nose,

and I know why I can be strong,

why I must go on alone,

 yet not alone,

different but the same somehow.

And in that smiling face,

the one that is smiling back at me right now,

Is my joy,

my life,

my steady heartbeat.

And that’s all that matters!

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