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A Quiet Walk


by Foster Trecost


We moved on Tuesday. Boxes furnished our apartment, and I was hesitant to unpack, so I left. “I'm going out,” I said. I don't know what she said.

I walked down a crowded sidewalk, but not with people. We were trees dressed in Tuesday clothes, Tuesday coats and Tuesday hats. I felt alone, like the only boy in the city, except I wasn't a boy; I was a tree. I ducked in a store to buy a pack of gum. The clerk said what I owed, and I checked the register to make sure I understood. I paid, and put the change in my pocket.

Dusk became dark and traffic jammed the streets. Headlights shot the cars in front and I imagined the beams were a single beam, like long light-skewers piercing through a car-kebob. I chewed gum and popped it rapid-fire, and wondered how it felt to be annoyed by a sound.

At an intersection I crossed with the others when the light changed. I felt like a grape, and felt happy to be with a bunch grapes. Grapes were much better than trees.

I stopped to watch a Santa. He swung a bell, and I wondered if the sound helped him collect more money. I thought it might be annoying, like my gum. Still, I gave him the change from my pocket. Steps later, I passed a homeless man holding a cup, and wished I'd waited.

A sign advertised the best Chinese in the city, and I decided to taste for myself. I decided the sign lied. I paid, went back to the homeless man and dropped my change in his cup. He said something, but his beard wouldn't let me see what. I'm sure he felt like a tree.

Back at my building, she greeted me at the door and asked how I found the city. “Loud,” I replied. She laughed at my sarcasm. The boxes were gone and our apartment looked empty.

“Does the bell matter?” I watched her mouth. Reading lips was easy; minds, a bit harder.

“Bell?”

“Santa, he rings a bell. Does the sound make a difference?”

“You give him any money?”

I said I did, and she said there's my answer.

I asked if she wanted some tea. “Sounds good,” she said, and I asked if she was trying to be funny; we both laughed. When I handed over her mug, we blew ripples in the surface.

“I felt like a grape,” I said.

“When?”

“When I crossed the street.”

She smiled because she knew that was good. The tea was hot and we blew more ripples.

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