Friday, March 18, 2011

conversation with a stranger

The room was packed with people.

The coffee in my system had since left my body and I couldn’t recognize many of the faces around me. Vision blurred, I slumped into the nearest chair, clutching a small, worn book in my hand. There was man in the front of the room, speaking in an authoritative tone and with monotonous intonation – automatically, I struggled to pay attention.

“… importance … hours … three hundred and fifty … but only …”

Someone tapped me on my shoulder, holding the destroyed book.

“You dropped this.”

“Right,” I attempt to nod.

There is a flurry of papers and shifting positions. I pull out the pen attached to the paperback and start writing.


It ends with forty five minutes left on the clock and I stumble into the afternoon sunlight. There’s a bench nearby which I fumble to reach. I don’t care about people and their damn dogs, so I lay out passing into unconsciousness as soon as my head hits the wood.


(a small street, bicycles whipping up past me, hair in mouth – I try to find mine – rolling on two wheels next to a stranger)


I blink. I’m awake.

I feel something heavy on my shoulders. I sit up suddenly, disoriented, confused – what time was it?

Two hands steady me.


“Whoa. It’s okay.” The hands are still on my shoulders. I end up looking into brown eyes and relax into the offered embrace.

“How was it?”

“H’was what?” I say rubbing my face, shrinking away from the sunlight. There’s a scoffing laugh.

“You’ve been talking about this since you were – “

“ – shut up. I know.”

I sit up, my back against the wooden panels, feet planted to the ground. I stare parallel to the plane beneath my feet, watching a poodle scamper around its owner’s feet.

“I – I don’t know.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

I sigh, running my hand through my hair.

“It means, “ I struggle, “that I wrote it. And that’s it. Blank slate.”

My companion merely looks at me, or so I assume – my eyes are still focused on the scampering poodle.

“I don’t remember okay?” I say quickly getting up. “Thanks,” I mumble returning the jacket.

“Hold on a second –“

“I’ll talk to you later, okay?” I say, grabbing my book. My pen has disappeared, its remnants on my palms and fingertips.

“Seriously? You just –“ was the reply to my admittedly ambiguous statement. I started walking away. Fast. I could hear my name being called loudly … louder. I picked up my pace and ran. Ran, ran, ran.

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