My problem was that I was looking at her face. Her brown hair was pulled back in a single ponytail. She paused for a second to let her blue eyes adjust to the dim atmosphere. As she started walking toward the counter I tried to picture her covered in fur with large ears, but nothing really clicked. That’s when I heard Paul’s voice whisper as he poured a shot of espresso. He never looked my way.
Mrs. Wonder smiled politely and started a gentle clap that prompted the rest of her first grade class to follow suit. Show-and-tell Friday’s had become a predictable time of slow talking and a round of letting all the students touch each object. This week’s theme of “What I Collect” had been a small parade of Barbie’s, superhero action figures, and for those who forgot to bring something… shoes.
There is an assumption among those who have suffered little that the anticipation of pain is worse than the pain itself. They are greatly mistaken. At 17 years old I should not know this. I knew so little of pain before tonight, but schoolmaster Auditore saw to it that I received a proper education on the subject.
It is rare to possess enough clarity to trace our choices back to the first step of the path we find ourselves traveling. Maybe this is a gift of the pain. Neither my blood stained sheets nor the smile I wear alone in the darkness of my room would exist were it not for the gardener’s gate.
Wind whipped at his suit as he stood on the edge. It was simple in theory. Just take a step and gravity would do the rest. But this was no longer theory. One step would mean either life or death. It just depended on the direction he would choose.
“Happy anniversary sir.”
His reflection in the window cast a transparent smile back to her as she set the tray of coffee down on his desk. A baseball passed from hand to hand as he watched the deep orange of the morning sun sneak up behind a curtain of high-rises. He stared at the city crawling to life from high above, the way a hawk watches for its next meal.