“You must remember this one?”
Sunlight sprinkled flowered meadow, line of night bisecting cloudless blue. She, knelt down, hands cradling a frail blue blossom peeking up through clover. I said no.
“But you’re the botanist.”
“Only on weekends.”
It was the weekend, she insisted. I said all right, let’s name it.
Ezra. Forever after, Ezra.
Laughing at the power of two, (who think themselves immortal through a love which didn’t last the week), we ran back to the picnic, waiting to be spread across the blanket, waiting to be spread. The line of night marched on.
Lunchtime later: Waiter trying hard to please but can’t. Finally coffee flows. She jumps up screaming. He tries to sponge it dry. I snarl and he slinks off. I get the blame, her amber hair no longer so appealing.
Let’s go home and clean it, take off that steaming skirt. She wants it her way. I leave alone, waiter miffed and stiffed on tip. He had it coming.
Another feast: Metro running late with rain drops dribbling down the stairway. The station piles up soggy bodies not yet minds, still lingering at the office. Poring over one last memo and the report that didn’t work.
Strobelike faulty fluorescent throbbing in the tunnel. Charmaine and Tiffany waiting by the edge. Too close. Mother, caught up with packages of back to school, too busy to notice.
She, slouching on the bench, finger pointing at the tall, balding man against the wall. Agate attache still held in the right while in the left the quartered Chronicle. Eyes scanning race results for Any Doubters in the fifth. I said no.
She named him without me. Jason Trumpfeldt. I laughed, though the time for games had passed without either of us knowing when. She had yet to see it.
A surging crowd moments before the train appeared caught the two unsuspecting, waiting for the rumble. Footing lost, they teetered til it came in view, too late to stop before the middle. A wasted warning blared and tiny voices hung like knives, dropping, catching us standing; an island amidst the sickening surge. Mother shrieked and wilted on forgotten packages. Wasted purchases now, spilling shirts and skirts, froot of the loom on yellow tile floor.
I noticed, though she didn’t: Jason, folded paper underarm, moved through the mob and grabbed a seat by the window, fifth row from the rear of the second car. What luck to find his favorite seat free.
Shaking on his knees, the conductor stared in horror at the wreckage. Fearing for his job, her eyes asked, but I didn’t feel like talking. Blue coats bustled through the milling crowd, cordoned off the station, running surface cars until the mess was cleared. Jason’s windfall wasted.
And the sheep wandered out, bleating “Did you see them? Wasn’t it awful? Their poor mother.”
She and I just stood like no one could see us, and maybe no one could. Still there when the white coats came and scooped them up in bags. She went over to touch the crumpled woman no one seemed to notice until detectives brought her back to life with questions she cried at. I wanted a drink.
Staring in the mirror at the stranger drinking the drink I just bought her, thinking of laughing legs and flowers no one ever heard of. She looked at me. I got off the stool and walked.
Sunlight after the rain: The crew rolled up the tarp to restart the game. Up by three in the fourth, and it was cold. Soggy peanuts. Dry ones reclaimed their left field seats. They stared at me, my program mush.
Almost dry, tied in the tenth, and they pinch hit. Jason Trumpfeldt, someone said, scanning his program. Familiar name. I almost laugh when I remember and am not surprised when he puts one in the seats. We didn’t score, but I kept the ball.
Michael Goodell is a writer, cyclist, reader, racquets player residing in the great state of Michigan.