Amazing Grace

The heavy thrum of the engines was the soundtrack to the extended weekend. She sat on the balcony soaking up the yellow rays and beading sweat, all the while the throaty rattle of motorcycles rolled by. It was a perennial invasion of black leather, glossy metal that glinted in the sun, and always the roar that vibrated in her gut.

There had been that one summer, standing on the upward slant of the V, the wall’s black marble swallowing up the thick air. Traffic was a faint hum in the distance and a handful of people milled about the kelly green lawn. The pinched tone of a bagpipe cut through the cornflower sky, and the chords lingered against the chalk white names. She lost her breath in the wail of the pipes and watched the pair stand through the song, soldiers in salute.

She had a decade collection of the rumbling sound of the bikes, every balcony adjacent to a main drag. The thunder would roll all weekend, and then, like the tiny black triangles at the end of the wall, taper off until silence echoed on the hazy streets.

Dew Point

The air was a blanket, tepid and damp like it had just come out of a dryer that didn’t work. She wanted to breathe it in, this foggy stickiness, but the air was goo in her lungs. This was not deep breath air.

She remembered a decade ago, the sun that baked liquid droplets of sweat into her navy blue shirt as she walked towards the Watergate. She was green then, wide-eyed to the big city, and she got hopelessly turned around in a traffic circle that felt enormous.

They had offered to pay for her taxi, but she chose to wander the new neighborhood on foot. It was magic to her. A constant stream of cars that passed, coughing out fuel fumes that caused her fellow walkers to crinkle their noses. There was so much everything. Cars and horns and people and activity. She was part of it all. Monuments blazed in the oven sun, and she shaded her eyes, marvelling at being here in person. That this was her reality, her home.

Details are hazy now. She can remember the errand and her skirt – green and blue and tropical. And sometimes in the muggy soup, moments collide into her memory, and the Summer becomes time-less.

Delay

The long silver chain

ricocheted

off her chest and

bounced

into her chin.

The stands were a

blur

of variegated people and signs.

Her brows

crinkled

together with each

slam

of her black shoes

against glossy white tile.

The terminal was infinite.

308

She said they were breakfast.

Cinnamon and Lucky.

Called them cereal and laughed small

like she knew they’d heard that joke

a million times before.

They can’t be cereal anymore, though.

That gunshot was a crack

and everything just oozed out of the bowl –

spilled milk.

They don’t remember small laughs.

October Snow

She was crying. Even without Juan’s sweet smooth voice, she was crying. Big, hot tears that pooled in her eyes until her entire vision was watery. They careened down her chilled cheeks. She wanted to scream. This was all so desperately unfair, and she was so desperately stuck

And then. It started to snow. Tiny, cotton flakes that swiftly became giant puffs, and she couldn’t believe her stupid damn luck. Snow so early in the year. The flakes clung to the asphalt, the sidewalk, her clothes and hair. She tucked her hands into her pockets and dipped her chin into her collar. Her scream had become a syrupy choke, thick with exasperation. Of course it was fucking snowing. 

Mom had loved the snow. She’d grown up out West where the snow was like the down in a pillow. Mom had been an avid skier, used to regale her with stories of slaying mammoth slopes. Mom had tried skiing in the East, but didn’t like it, said it only made her sad. Just made her miss the infinite peaks and airy powder of her youth. 

Elle’s breath evaporated and she hunched her shoulders forward. She gazed skyward into the white speckled air. She closed her eyes and let Mom wash over her. She held out her hands and caught the crystals of ice in her palms. Every flake that kissed her body was Mom, Mom, Mom. 

This was missing.