Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Beguine The Middle

As he glanced downward, she caught a glimpse of the dull flecks of loneliness he'd been hiding. He had such sad eyes. She started to cry....

She blinked out a first tear. Then another. She tasted the salt on her lips. Finally, she gave into it, and the waves of full-body sobs came. When the tears ran out, Ella breathed in deeply through her nose and pushed the air out in short bursts. She regained her center, sat up on the couch, and reached back to slide open the window.

The night air was cold, but it felt good. Ella suddenly got the urge to get out of the apartment. She took her camera, and hung it around her neck.

She walked outside and looked up.  Grey clouds obscured the stars, but a low-hanging near-full moon gave the night an muted glow.

It was 1:30 AM, and there was a thin layer of snow on the ground.  Ella swung the camera strap around so her Canon dangled from her back.  She shoved her hands into her pockets, sighed, and began to walk.

*      *      *

At 2 AM, Ella is standing across the street from a dimly lit crowded bar, watching the people as they shuffle in and out. The snow is coming down now, but gently. She slides the Canon off her back, leans on a parked car, and begins to shoot in black-and-white.

Though colorless, the city hums with a raw energy under her gaze.

Ella's face scrunches up in concentration.

She captures a tall black man laughing among a group of friends. Click.

A woman, wobbling unsteadily, with her girlfriends flanking either side of her, until she disappears in a yellow taxi. Click.

A middle aged man in a plaid shirt and worn jeans leaning against the wall and speaking intently to an unknown person on his phone. Click.

A young couple, oblivious to the scene, bodies close, arms wrapped up in each other, a jumble of open hands resting on each others hips and shoulders. Click.

A man in a blue blazer and khakis, standing alone smoking a cigarette. His face is obscured, but the ash glows orange inches from his lips. Click. He is looking in her direction, but appears to be disinterested, distracted.  He finishes his cigarette, flicks it to the ground, and heads back inside.

A yellow sliver of moon, poking out from a pillow of dark clouds. Click.

Ella shoots for about thirty minutes, until she realizes the tips of fingers are now freezing. She heads down the sidewalk towards home, the snow now crunching underfoot.

* * *

When Ella reaches her brownstone, a soft layer of snowflakes covers her hair.  She is cold all over.  Despite the time, she is wide awake. Inside her apartment, Ella begins to warm up. She downloads the pictures from the camera, and then prints out all of her pictures from the evening. She looks at each one, and then scatters them around her as she sits on the floor.

Ella flips onto her belly, and rests on her elbows with her legs sprawled behind her. She studies one picture at a time, taking in one face of stranger at a time. She tells herself their stories, and falls asleep just as the sunrise is marked by a bright patch of light on the hardwood floor.

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