Monday, August 13, 2012

Center of the Universe

He walks in quick small steps ahead of her, ashing his cigarette on every fourth step. She is large, mainly belly. He can't escape her gravity despite his pace and attempted levity. They round Quincy Avenue onto 13th Street, he gives way to her and walks on the weeds shattering the sidewalk. He accelerates for his stumbling to maintain pace. "Chuck is happy I want part time. Few people do, you know? Women's clothing is women's clothing. I'm good at sorting by designer and size. Faster than everyone. So fast. But, yeah, I know he's getting 40 hours work for 20 hours pay. Hey! watch this, watch this!" he says. He takes four steps and puffs his cigarette but holds the smoke and takes four more before blowing smoke rings that are shattered by the sun. "See those?! Did you see them?!" She says nothing. She's got continental sweat stains beneath her boobs: Africa on the right, Australia is small. Her world is trembling.

"I'd like to organize by colors, but they don't shop that way. I sometimes do for fun. I sometimes wear the blouses for fun!" he says. The wet crotch of her jogging pants sags and rubs her things raw. They are off 13th Street and onto Quaker.

"I like the paisley tops, but I don't wear the skirts -- I wear the solid skirts, not the paisley," he says. Four steps, puff, blow. Four Steps, ash. He's scattered by the shattered sidewalk that tumbles into 13th Place. He's lucky not to have fallen. She's not breathing heavy. She's pacing herself off Quaker and onto 13th Place. She's not talking.

"Did you see that, did you?!" He's skipping backward ahead of her. "Concrete must've been blown to bits by the drunken curbers -- you know drunkards hitting the curb?!" His bare feet are burning. Her flip flops are slapping. The brick apartment building is shattering the skyline to the left of them as they spin: left turn, left turn, left turn -- 450 steps, then left, 464 steps, then left, 451 or 452, then left, 464.

"I love you!" He blows the words into her path and her face shatters the cloud of smoke. "I love your baby too -- our baby, our baby." She stutter steps. She steadies her pace and eclipses him around Quincy Avenue. "Living on Tulsie time! Yeah, yeah, yeah," He laughs and sings, staring at the sun and he shakes a flame across a new cigarette while sidestepping sidestepping he hops outside her orbit in the grass.

"Ahh!" He screams.

She stays steady forward. A shattered bottle bleeds his foot. He can't drop his cigarette and hops alongside her. Onto Quaker. Onto 13th Place. On one foot. Onto Quincy. Onto 13th Street. Pangaea of sweat quakes on her belly. He gets ahead of her but bows to the pain. She maintains orbit and passes without him.

1 comment:

  1. oh, wow. thank you for this. ouch. the last line says it all.