Summer on the Sidewalk

There were the flashing street lights and the sirens and the cracked pavement.  There was the harsh afternoon sun on her face, reflecting from glass buildings made by men, intended for use in their world.  And heat, like waves of grief, rising from the concrete.  It was summer on 42nd Street.  The humidity was as unforgiving as clumsy tourists taking photos of the sidewalks.  She invited the chaos in because if she tried to fight it, it would surely win.  One foot stepped in front of the other in a sea of sweat and grime.  Her linen shirt breathed in and out, kissing her salty stomach on the inhale.  The subway was 5 blocks north, right past the corner where she put her heart up for sale.

The transaction wasn’t intentional.  It was merely a bi-product of being an organic creature with a beating heart in a concrete jungle.  Sometimes the hard lines of the city made her forget her own humanity, and it was in those moments she overlooked a lack of decency in others.  The first time she looked into his eyes she saw darkness, void of the sparkle that signals a soul lives inside.  There was an emptiness begging for a home, for something to feed on. He smelled the fullness of her purity.  Her vigor, her heart, her soul, her spirit were all ripe.  In him she saw someone who needed saving.  In her he saw someone who was begging to be loved.  He hunted.  She invited the wolf in for tea and he stayed for dinner.

As she reached the subway she wiped the beads of sweat from her forehead with the back of her palm.  Her grandmother’s ring, worn on her pointer finger, scratched her skin.  She was grateful for a new distraction.  The heat disrupted her composure in a way that made her touch heavier and thoughtless.  She acknowledged her lack of control over the elements that rendered her unable to care for herself and walked down the stairs.  When the sun was no longer the main offender, and she reached the tile clad tunnel she stool still.  She felt as though it was for the first time.  The hustle swirled around her like gold confetti.  Someone’s jagged elbow made their way into her back. She didn’t notice.  Everything smelled like salt and used food wrappers.  She knew this was a prison she built with her own two hands.  She knew there was relief to be had in the ocean, when the sun went down.

The A train was about to arrive.  She decided to get on.  She took it to the end of the line, with surfers and women in sundresses carrying beach chairs they bought at Target the day before.  She didn’t plan to swim.  She planned to sit on the sand and listen to the waves rock back and forth.  She didn’t need a chair, or a bathing suit, or a sundress.  She needed herself, she needed her tailbone, she needed the cool breeze.  The waves ran over her toes.




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