Spring died, drowned by the climbing mercury in the giant thermometer on the brick wall of Tilson’s bar she could see by day in rising sunlight that arced over the building, and at night in the lurid neon glow from the sign above. Temperatures wouldn’t back down until late October. The wind carried a hint of relief from the day’s heat, but three floors up, it reeked of hot asphalt. Her fingers reached down and brushed the canvas awning the building owner had fashioned for a shade over each window.
The apartments were full of dreamers: writers, singers, musicians. Those who wanted it all and worked for it. And those who wanted but—came to realize—would never come close. She had seen it in them, coming and going in the halls, on the stairs and in herself. An emotional ebb and flow—a waxing or waning tidal energy or lack of—that kept them and her hanging on or ended with thoughts of letting go.
Jobs, small gigs came to her from time to time to shape an eked-out existence. As each ended, sometimes they’d say, “There’s something about you… that comes and goes. And when it goes, so do you.”
She didn’t know what that ‘something’ was.
The crackling flash was followed by a rumbling of air. Jagged forked tips tore through the crowding clouds but didn’t reach the ground. There’d be no rain. Only a false promise. She touched the canvas awning—on a whim, she had painted like piano keys—and wondered if beneath her, in the window below, someone sat and wished for fall. And to discover their ‘something.’
Fat drops of rain splashed on the canvas, one… then two… a third plopped on the back of her hand, running between fingers and web between them and thumb. She smiled at what she’d thought was false. With the changes in the Sun and Earth, rain happened so rarely its lack had become truth—reality—and any suggestion of otherwise, a lie. She leaned out and looked up, feeling the welcome coolness that ended too soon. As she touched damp cheeks, she thought… maybe there’s always something to hope for.
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