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 it wasn’t crowded with people. They were all trees dressed in Tuesday clothes–Tuesday coats and Tuesday hats. I felt alone, like the only boy around, except I wasn’t a boy; I was a tree, too. I ducked in a corner store to buy gum. The clerk said what I owed, and I checked the register to make sure. 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 a car-kebob. I chewed gum and popped it rapid-fire, and wondered how it felt to be annoyed by sound.

At an intersection I crossed with everyone else when the light changed. I felt like a grape, and I felt happy to be with a bunch grapes. Grapes were much better than trees. Being a tree made me feel lonely. I didn’t feel lonely when I was a grape.

I stopped to watch a Santa. He swung a bell and I wondered if the sound helped him collect money. Seems like it would be annoying, like my gum-gun. 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 in a window advertised the best Thai food in the city, and I decided to see for myself. I pointed to my choice on the menu, and 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 was thick, and it 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 make a difference?” I watched her mouth. Reading lips was easy; minds were a bit harder.

“Bell?”

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

“You give him anything?”

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. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foster Trecost writes stories that are mostly made up.

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