Category Archives: Tidbits

City-bound.

“Could you stop that?” I snapped, nervously smoothing the front of my coat with damp palms.

“Stop what?” Martin whined, honking a wad of mucus into a wrinkled napkin for the thirtieth time since we sat down. I glanced furtively around us, wondering how many of the other passengers would be wrinkling their noses, looking at us like festering Petrie dishes.

Instead of answering him, I exhaled quietly and turned again toward the window. Queens was whizzing passed, a brick and concrete reminder of the city drawing ever closer.

“What time is the interview?” Martin sniffed, his voice slightly obscured by his congestion.

“Nine.” It was maybe the fourth time I’d told him.

“Don’t stress, you won’t be late.”

Martin is obsessed with stress. He thinks everyone’s biggest problem is that they stress too much. I’ve heard him blame everything from chicken pox to baldness to poverty on stress.

“I’m not worried about being late,” I snap. Part of me hopes he’ll see through my thin anger and ask, “Well, babe, what are you worried about?” Another part of me hopes he’ll just shut up and let me ride the last fifteen minutes to the station in peace.

He stays quiet, but I suspect it has more to do with his sudden interest in a game on his phone than any insight into what I wanted from him.

I lean my forehead on the cool widow for a moment, glimpses of tiny, weed-ridden yards and miles of fence and wire winking back at me.

One day, I think, you’ll never have to look at this again.

Next to me, I hear Martin search absent-mindlessly for another napkin from his backpack.

One day.

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The last to know

She felt herself staring at him from across the crowded room. Now and then, a mildly drunken partier would veer into her sight path, which she told herself would disguise the fact that she hadn’t taken her eyes off of him for the last 15 minutes.

Why hasn’t he told me?

The question nagged at her mind more than it should of, crowding down the roiling anger, the devastating sadness, the poisoning guilt and sense of inadequacy.

Why hasn’t he told me?

She watched him lift a hand and smooth down his shiny curls, worn shorter than she’d ever see them. She watched him smile his goofy grin, make ridiculous faces in time with the story he was telling. She could hear the laughter around him. Did they know? Did everyone else know?

And worse, could they know that she didn’t know?

But the worst, above the doubts, the sadness, the anger, the guilt, the insecurities, were the moments when he glanced her way, their eyes locked, and she made herself grin foolishly back at him.

It seemed fitting punishment. Hadn’t she played the fool all along?

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Bitter pills

Her heart swelled with the heavy hurt.

“Not worth it,” they said.

“Waste of time,” they said.

“Such a pretty girl,” they’d coo.

Always stroking hands and patting heads. And she would smile and swallow, swallow, swallow, never feeling full.

And always quiet, so well behaved.

Until her stomach, crowded out by her swollen, ulcered heart, would take too much.

So she’d vomit out her bitterness like a poison to anyone who would hold back her hair.

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The Eyes Have It

He smiled at her, but she couldn’t decide for sure whether or not it was a leer. It was too restrained to be a grin, but with enough teeth to steer clear of smirk territory.

The leer, she decided, was in the eyes. In the slow spreading of the lips over the teeth with a wet smolder in the eyes instead of a twinkle.

She played it safe and smiled back, but she knew without a mirror that her eyes undoubtedly conveyed her misgivings.

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Trains of our Lives

The man on the platform had one arm around the dark-haired girl, but neither of them looked comforted. His eyes effused sadness, but the more he begged the stiffer her spine became.

She would forgive him, that much was clear. She knew it. He knew it. The girl on the platform watching them furtively behind oversized sunglasses knew it. The question was when and how much she would want from him before he did.

His left hand gesticulated wildly, and from time to time he would glance knowingly at it. How could a man with such an effusive left hand be deceitful?

But the saddest part was the impending forgiveness. Because just as they all knew it would come, they all also knew it probably wasn’t deserved.

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