Where there's rain.
Eyes closed. She presses four fingertips into the arch of her eyebrow and feels her sternum expand. One. Two. Three-ee. One. Two. Three-ee. One. Two. Three-ee. One. Two. Three-ee. She counts as the air scrapes back and forth against the rims of her nostrils, holding the last count for an extra Three-ee-ee, before breathing in strongly and deeply to reset. The eyes open, one arm goes up, then the other. Fifth position; one of the only things she remembers from childhood ballet. She leans to the right, letting the left side of her ribs fan out and stretch, before countering. Tourists stare at her from across the street. Maybe they’re tourists. Actually, there’s no way of telling from this distance, other than the fact they’re staring. But never mind them. Extending a leg, her skirt falls away like a tent and she tilts out into the crosswalk, squinting against the sun. Rain looks promising. She visualizes where her umbrella is at home.
“WATCH IT, BITCH! FUCK.”
The momentum of a red Civic whips stray hairs into her face. She turns to watch the vehicle correct its course. “My mistake!” she yells apologetically in her head. Outwards she retreats gingerly, arms at her sides, eyeing the car driving farther away. The tourists are staring. One of them, a tall, lanky man with a long nose and brown stringy hair, bends down to whisper something into the ear of the woman standing next to him. She shakes her head. She is small and stocky, with a hearty face and short hair, styled in the way so many midwestern women do when they hit fifty: cut close around the sides and gradually expanding into abundant bounciness at the top. She is wearing cat-eyed glasses and his are are round and horn-rimmed, and as they vacillate their attention between themselves and her, tiny flashes of light shoot off from the lenses. The woman picks something off from the fleece vest he’s wearing, black against a pea-green flannel shirt. She wears a similar one, but hers is navy against a violet button-up, and they both wear jeans and round-toe hiking shoes. Yes, tourists.
They begin walking towards her, and as she lets her eyes dart to the side—double-checking this time for rogue, oncoming traffic—she moves forward. Were they judging her? They were judging her. How the fuck do they dare judge her? Who they hell were they anyway? They don’t know the rules here, they don’t know how it works: there’s no abundance of time, there’s no waiting for the crossing signal, there’s no anything. Do they know her life? No. She has things to do, she has places to be. She’s been awake since 6:45 and won’t be back asleep until 1. Do they know she’s nearly thirty and wants it to just be a little easier? Just a little bit. Do they know she just wants to sit? Just sit. For an hour, even half an hour. That’s all. Do they know she feels strangers rush past her day in and day out, and that she wonders how it is that everyone around her always seems to have their lives together? And why is it always so hard? Why is it?
Something small and wet splashes against her exposed shoulder. She directs her eyes to the sky. One. Two. Three-ee. One. Two. Three-ee-ee. Goddamnit. Tiny drops pelt harder and faster against her skin. She looks down and crowns her head, not noticing the tourists have crossed her path until an extended arm holding an umbrella interrupts her view.
She looks up. The woman pokes the umbrella into her hand. She’s crowding under the one the man is holding.
“And my goodness, I can’t believe what that man said to you! How could anyone be so rude? Don’t let that ruin your day.” The woman smiles.
Her eyes look confused but grateful; she can feel what they express. Before she can say anything the couple walks away, and she is standing in the intersection at 5th and 23rd. The timer of the crosswalk ticks closer to single digits. She retreats with the intention of giving the umbrella back, but no, no—the pair has descended into the subway. Or somewhere. They’ve disappeared somewhere, somehow. Turning back she runs lightly to the other side of the street, slows back down, opens the umbrella as she walks down the sidewalk, the natural rhythm of rain drumming against the nylon. She has things to do. She has places to be.
Inhabit tank; Gifted vintage skirt; Vintage belt; Zara flower necklace and flats; Handmade poof necklace.