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From a writing challenge: To take something insignificant, and make it bigger than it is.

This city is no stranger to rush hour, and it always seems that no matter how many people rush from point A to point B, we all still get to where we need to be in the end. It’s easy to get lost in that space of time. It’s easy to lose yourself to the resolute struggle of gas, brake, signal light, gas, horn, brake. It’s even easier to become lost in the throng of shuffling marches through the sidewalks.

There are those that push and squirm and wriggle through the traffic, and then there are others, like myself, who tuck their hands in their pockets, dip their heads, and let the steady flow of bodies around them continue to guide us onward. Sometimes we will stop, as a red hand will flash before our eyes, and then the automotives will cut across our path.

At times, the weather is not so bad. Today, it is miserable, overcast, and dreary. It feels like a reflection on the kind of day I’ve had. I can’t even say just what went wrong, but it was those little moments that nitpicked away and wore at my resolve. It was the seconds in meetings where predominant voices would cut me off. It was the shunning of ideas that rolled around in my skull, disabling them from coming to light. It was the feeling of disregard, and of being discarded. When I looked outside the windows of the twenty story building I had become a corporate prisoner to, the dullness of the sky only seemed to reflect just how dull I felt.

I had come to this city with bright dreams, and huge goals. With time, that had faded to dismal plans and dead end turns. I felt akin to the city in that moment, as I watched the looming grey block it from the light. It normally is a beautiful city, but even the most charming of sentiments only remain that way if they are nurtured sufficiently. This was only a day, for the city. It had been months of that same overcast for me.

Today, however, I just seemed to feel it more keenly. Like a chill breath over my shoulder, ghastly fingers sunk into my flesh, curled around my bones, and seeped to warmth of brighter joys from me.

Moving to the city had been a mistake. I don’t know what I was thinking.

An arm jostled against my back as I stood, waiting for that light to change. People milled all around, standing like stupid cattle, waiting to be herded by a signal that wasn’t even sentient. I hated it. Did nobody think for themselves, in a crowd like this?

I took a look around. I studied the other faces around me. A professional man with lines of worry carved into his cheeks and forehead glanced earnestly down at the touch screen phone cradled in his leather clad palm. An elderly woman toting a cart of groceries pulled her jacket closer about her. Her breath was a mere wisp of hydrated smoke, curling away into the crisp air until it disappeared. All around me, men and women, tied up in their own worlds, and yet so undeniably a part of one another’s. How could we be such a unified mass, and yet be so alien to one another?

I felt the light change, before I saw it. I felt it because the mass of people began to pressure forward, and we spilled across the walk way, a slow moving burst of a dam. To my left, traffic waited, but I didn’t take in very many of their expressions. All around me, we milled onward. I put my hands back in my pockets and looked down, trusting the constant motion would direct me where I needed safely.

I suppose, had I been looking up, I would have seen you. It also goes without saying, had I been looking up, I would have missed you entirely.

A hand fell against my arm, and I felt a body brace against mine, passing in a rush. It was innocent – unintentional even, in the way that one person loses balance, and must catch themselves on another.

But I was not ready for it, and even as the weight of another invaded the space I had been allotted in our shepherded travel, I felt myself give, and I collapsed into the push of people behind and beside me.

At least, I would have. But the hand on my arm tightened, the press of a body against mine became firm, if still innocent. We were all in fall jackets for Christ’s sake.

I heard your voice, a vagrant light that cracked through the dismal gray that had taken over my world. ‘Woah, easy there. I’ve got you,’ you soothed, and in a way that was completely foreign to our surroundings. You were a moment, an instance, a branch of cheer flowing against the tide of our quiet procession.

I looked up at you as you secured me, a hand on my arm, and an arm around my back. People split apart around us, only to flow together again once they had passed. It gave us an isolated feel, as though we were no longer a piece of the rumbling parade. You held me, but our involvement with one another was just so innocent.

It was your smile that caught me off guard. It was sudden and crisp. It was warmth in the chill and I wondered just how you could be so cheery, so different, and so un-put together on a day like this. All around us, people were dressed well, had an air of neatness to them. They were ready for the day. But you…

Your slacks were the only thing crisp about you. You wore a white shirt, but had tucked it lazily into your pant line. The coat you were struggling with was only half on, with one of the sleeves still dragging off your shoulder. In your hand against my back, I can only assume you held your gloves. Around your neck, but not covering your throat was a bright, plaid scarf. It hung unevenly off your shoulders, but if any of this bothered you it could not be seen in the depths of your smile.

Your smile! It was like a gem. There were so many facets to it, and so many ways in which light glimmered from it. I could see it in the flash of your teeth, and the dimples on your cheek. But what struck me most, was the way it spread to your eyes – eyes so green, they were only meant to shine. The corners of them crinkled as though they could not possibly contain some otherwise unspoken jubilation.

We shared a breath, one of which I took in, and you exhaled. I tasted mint in the vapour that clung to the roof of my mouth and filled the back of my throat, but beneath that was the rich, heady sting of nicotine and smoke. Confused and dazed by how suddenly you had tilted me off my axis, I could feel my fingers curl against the felt of my mittens, where my hands rested on your upper arms.

You stayed just long enough to secure that I was steady. That faceted smile continued to glow upon me, but then you turned back into the crowd to travel against it. The last touch I felt, was your hand as it slid away from my back. The last thing I saw of you was the bounce of red curls as you ducked and weaved your way through the masses.

I couldn’t hold up the space we had shared, against them. It started with a bump on my shoulder, and then against my hip as people merely dipped around me, as opposed to parting and allowing me the space we had shared. I tried to follow you with my eyes, but you quickly became lost in the milling, and I, forced to continue.

I glanced back, but I caught nothing.

The taste of your breath hung in my mouth, both refreshing yet stagnant.

The glow of your gem like smile filled my thoughts, and you know, it made me smile as well.

Some how, that breath, that moment between you and I let just a little light continue to shine through my grey.

Submitted: July 18, 2014

© Copyright 2022 Chenise. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:


Devin Williamson

I enjoyed this. It was cute. I just moved to the city, and I really got the description of isolation. Off to read "twelve Minutes..." have a good day.

Thu, July 24th, 2014 5:27pm


Thanks so much! I'm glad the descriptions were relate-able to someone and that you enjoyed the story! Thanks for checking out my work and I will be sure to peruse more of yours as I get the chance!

Thu, July 24th, 2014 10:52am

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