the games we play

Friday, July 11, 2014


The milk jug was left open on the table. And her syrupy plate sat there too, where she had left it after she walked away. Her head pounded with the slight headache she always got when she overslept, but it didn’t matter. Or that was what she told herself as she opened the door and stepped outside. Really her head felt like she had just eaten too many scoops of ice cream. How delicate the line between pleasure and pain. She was down the sidewalk now. Her mind still on the warm jug of milk. (She should have put it away, back in the fridge.) But she tried to push it out. She was trying to be present. In the moment. Or something. She was trying to appreciate the way the sun couldn’t make up it’s mind and kept hiding behind the clouds. The way leaves still dried and crunched under her feet in the summertime, all of the heat. She shielded her eyes when the sun came back out, glinting off the cars parked by the sidewalk. A black car, followed by a black car, followed by another black car. Everyone, herself included, preferred black cars. Nondescript.  No one knew who you were in a black car. Or, you were no one. You ceased to exist.

The sun went being the clouds again, and her hand dropped back to her side. She was appreciating the new grey light, the sun swathed in a cotton ball, when she noticed someone on the path ahead. She would have to strategically avoid his eyes. She kept walking forward, her mind making notch marks for every little thing she appreciated. A perfect peach rose. A street sign spray-painted blank. A library receipt pasted to the ground with the last rainstorm. She was getting closer to the guy (man, her mind corrected) ahead. Now was the time to avert her eyes. To look straight ahead as if she didn’t even notice him. Oh? Was there someone there, I didn’t happen to notice?

But when she should have been passing him, it wasn’t necessary. He had veered off to unlock his car. Going to work after all. She was free to look at him; he was absorbed in sliding his key into the door and turning it. And it wasn’t a black car. It wasn’t a color either. Not a bright red, a yellow, or even a navy. It was a pale warm white, tinged with the slightest iridescence. Not Candy White, as some car companies advertised. It was the white of sea foam, or the inside of a shell. She wanted to ask him, why did he have a car painted in such a color. (And more so, where did one go to find such a color) But she was playing her game. She risked one last look and her eyes caught his, he stared right at her. He wasn’t playing her game. He existed. A black car could never suit someone who looked straight into your eyes, who moved with the smooth confidence of someone who had never hid, indeed, who had never wanted to hide.

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