Mile-End

By Mariana Chajon

Her zipper clips bounced on the top of her bag. They moved in sequence to the beat of seconds; ticking in minutes of breaths, counted in. They didn’t know how to count to a minute without catching their breath.

The zipper clips kept bouncing, and their sound could be used to trace the steps of two young adults walking a street that wasn’t Saint-Catherine (but if it was, you could’ve seen me, because you work on Tuesdays, somewhere on Saint-Catherine street).

Their shoes were dirty, but not once did she look down at them. They could’ve been clean. The laundromat they passed held stories of somebody else, but she felt she was a part of them as she heard them, because in the seconds and the breaths that they couldn’t measure in a minute, the words were directed to her: they were hers.

Since it was almost the end of October, and it was cold (even though I didn’t feel cold, and that morning I grabbed my lightest jacket), the breaths with words that couldn’t be measured in minutes that were directed to her seemed to trace currents of air, and wash away.

As he washed away his words on stories of somebody else at the laundromat, his zipper clips were on the left side of his bag. They didn’t make noise; they couldn’t trace back his steps.

Her bag was always heavy, but in the past couple of days it felt oddly light, so she walked on, past the laundromat, leaving her stories behind.

But more stories became hers and suddenly they became one, of her own.

His dad brought him into the church they passed by years ago and told him there was no god (I didn’t bother to capitalize).

So they kept walking leaving a trail of sesame seeds as they chewed on bagels that weren’t warm.

Oddly spaced, their steps were measured, not by minutes, but by two 20/20 visions reading street signs.

Every step they took, they could see clearer.

They knew where they were going, but they didn’t know where it was. They didn’t know where they were going.

A thought settled in one of them, like a feather falling down from the sky. They crossed the street in the ease of steps and zipper clips clipping, both sides of the street stared at each other’s eyes waiting to be noticed, but the dirty shoes kept walking in an oddly spaced sidewalk, and they didn’t turn their heads around.

Thirty seconds might have passed, as that is all they could have counted in the space of an hour.

The street was dusty, and the bagels they were eating rained sesame seeds and gathered dust.

Reflective windows.

It wasn’t a windy day, but for some reason the dusty street turned into dusty bagels, that turned into minuscule specks in their eyes. For the thirty seconds they could count in an hour, they closed their eyes.

Restaurant signs decorated the street with alliteration.

His tongue sounded like a prosody teacher as he named the businesses on the single street they walked in.

(In the end, we reached the theatre in time for the play).

 

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