Six feet apart.
kitten   June 22, 2005

Stars above the river. I've come to understand that I'm not the only one here who feels alone, but somehow that bit of ironic knowledge doesn't help me escape visions of you.

You, in a now threadbare apartment, with the lights off, and standing in your doorway I'm too afraid to ask what's happened, where your stuff is, all that clutter both maddening and endearing at once. You smile, and tell me everything is alright, and I can't tell if you're just making polite noises at me or if you mean what you say. When I asked if you were doing okay, it wasn't just the idle question so many others toss around. My presence there should have demonstrated that, and my presence here, now, on a night riverbank, should erase any doubt.

But you don't see me. You haven't seen me in a long time, save for my concerned visit.

Hair falling in your sleepy face, nervous laughter.

Do you remember the open cold night we went to see the comet? Dragged a cheap little telescope down to this very river together, and it took me two days to figure out how to aim it properly, but there it was in Newtonian reflector glory, and I could see your breath in the frozen air as you spoke of the wonders of the universe, maybe never knowing that to me, you were the wonders of the universe.

Or maybe you did, and used that to get what you wanted from me. When you're worshipped it's easy to get obedience.

The way you kick at the ground as I stand in your doorway filling the void with platitudes to hide from you. If this is how it has to be now, maybe I don't belong here.

But standing with the stars above the river, I can't imagine where else I would.

kitten   June 1, 2005

Her name is Marissa, though how he knows this he's unable to say, and she moves with a slow, awkward grace through her morning excursions. Trailing behind her, as is common, though in no way deliberate, just some syncronicity of schedules that he's also unable to explain, he sees the way her black hair catches the early light, and the way she barely notices.

Another thing he knows about her is how she likes to sit by the river at night until the water merges with the dark sky and she can imagine that before her is nothing but an empty void.

Here, at the coffee stand on Pike, sliding a crumpled dollar over at the heavy-lidded cashier. And here, in front of the flower shop on Third, and he knows that she will, as always, pause briefly in front of tihs shop. To the passerby, she's looking at her reflection. To him, she's looking at the arrangements of roses and hibiscus, something ancient and longing in her green eyes.

With a nod to the man behind the newstand, he takes his pack of cigarettes, earning him a contemptuous glare from the Chanel-attired woman in line behind him, and while dawn beats a red glow into a barren sky, Marissa's blue sneakers are visible from across the street.

She seems to study those shoes a lot as she walks, though he's caught her smiling at passing acquaintances more than once, sometimes stopping to exchange greetings with them.

She waits at the stop for the number eight southbound and sips her coffee, milk and sugar, and lets the steam wrap her face against the morning chill.

. . . . .

Sharp-faced and dark of hair, and around his neck as always: headphones. She's never actually seen him wear them, but they're always there. She's seen the way he drops quarters on the stand of the coffee shop like he's performing a magic trick, but doubts it's intentional. She doubts much of his mannerisms are intentional, which she finds internally refreshing, like he's a stage actor who has not only mastered the fourth wall, but believes in it so thoroughly he would stare blankly if you mentioned it to him and say, Yes, how else could it be?

Sometimes, if the timing is right, she'll catch him as he buys cigarettes from the stand near the flower shop. When she fails to do this, her sense of rhythm becomes tilted and difficult, and to restore balance, she's forced to count off footsteps until equilbrium is reached. One, two, one, two, the cracks of the sidewalk a blur beneath her feet.

Starlight keeps escaping her, these early mornings, stumbling amid the bedlam of a city awakening. But she's found a quiet substitute in the way people move, this early, with a sense of purpose and motivation. The only people out at this hour are those with somewhere to be, things to do, shops to open, businesses to run. She herself is not a morning person, but has come to appreciate that aspect of definition in movement.

All but him, which is likely why she's even noticed him these past weeks, always in the periphery and forever looking as though he hasn't slept, though it's improbable his clothes would fit anything but perfectly and his hair be rumpled just so. If he didn't operate in a dreamlike haze of efficient but barely-practiced motions, she'd call it pretentiousness, that of someone desperately trying to fit some kind of rockstar lifestyle mold, but the self-concious way he averts his gaze from her makes her think otherwise.

Rain rolls in as she sits at the bus stop, clattering on the plastic roof above.

. . . . .

He turns up his jacket collar against the sudden onslaught, a downpour like Old Testament fury, which does little to protect him, and so he bobs and weaves between traffic in an effort to get to the bus stop on the other side of the street.

Wipes rainwater from his face, lashes sticking together.

And she is there, sitting, demurely he thinks, her French roast at her lips, watching him.

He remembers to breathe and considers this an acheivement.

"You," she says, "look cold." And somehow, he knew her voice would sound this way, slow and sweet and edged.

"The rain," he offers dumbly by way of explanation.

"Mmm," she nods. His eyes dart, from her lips to her coffee, and she notices. She would. "You want some of this?"

"I," he begins. And stops. And tries again. "Sure. I mean, if you..?"

"Here," she says, and offers him the paper cup, eclectic and tarnished rings adorning random fingers. "S'got vanilla in it. Try it."

His hands are cold, the coffee hot. "Vanilla is good," he says.

"I'm Marissa."

"I know," he replies.

"I know you do," she says. And grins.