Never Cross Against the Light

As with any nut product, please chew responsibly.

Natascha smiled as the thought twirled into her head. She was sitting on a park bench, open book on her lap, glancing sideways at her benchmate, who was listlessly eating pistachios. Odd. Sitting next to a stranger, throwing thoughts at him. He might be think-talking right back at me, and I’d never know.

Squeezing her eyes shut, Natascha brought her right hand up, spreading her long fingers and pressing her thumb against the pencil she clutched so that her longest finger was able to reach the spot between her eyebrows. She applied pressure in smooth and practiced circles, a motion she performed a dozen times a day.

Natascha stood, closed her book, remembering too late to bookmark the page. No matter. She tugged at her shirt. A good-bye glance thrown to the nut-eater still on the bench yielded no result. He didn’t turn his head towards her. Fine, don’t make eye contact then. The sun sizzled down and fractured into tiny sparkles on the gravel trail. Natascha decided to leave the quiet public garden. It had all suddenly become too melancholy and too hot.

She walked through the ornate gate, out of the silence into the city, astir with afternoon activity. She breathed in deeply and sighed. I do love your kind of chaos, sweet city of mine! Now show me the way to a pint of quality ale and a street side table! Finding herself on the sunny side of the street, Natascha headed toward the pedestrian crossing. Car after car barreled through the intersection. Devil let out his sack. She pressed the large metal button to trigger the walk signal. Come on little green man. I’m thirsty. Others joined the wait. Blocking the breeze. Raising the tension. A student hauling a huge backpack. A tired looking mother with a stroller on one hand and a little boy on the other. Two young girls reeking of perfume. The clank of the mechanical button being pushed over and over.

The red light continued to firmly hold them all in place. Across the street, the shade looked cool and inviting. Take a thought. Pull it from deep in your stomach. Pull. Pull. The strand stretches like melty cheese on bread. When you’re simply so hungry you cannot wait to taste a piece, you keep pulling to cool it so you won’t burn your lips. But words can burn. Heated words spoken by inflamed hearts. The unstretchable words. Now those are the ones to groan and steam in the ears of the listener.

Natascha had to get away from the perfumed poshballs talking with no regard for the close environs in which they found themselves. She stepped back and brushed the backpack jutting from the student’s back. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she said. No response. Fine, don’t say a word. Don’t even look at me. She wormed her way to the back and found herself standing at the edge of the crowd some steps removed. A slight breeze allowed her to breathe again. Green man still hadn’t made his appearance. Hands sprouted cell phones. And ever so gently starting as a hum, words bubbled up like water on the cusp of a boil in a pot on the top of the stove. Muttering into his phone, the student crossed against the light. The two scent-spattered girls skipped across next. And then finally, green man glowed go.

Natascha stepped forward but was stopped short by a stout man jogging past with red cheeks and white hair whispering in the air. Well, you go Grandpa! She watched his receding back before starting towards the crosswalk. Just as she reached the curb, the red “don’t walk” light stopped blinking.

No recourse but to step back and again punch the signal button, sticky with the sweat of a hundred impatient hands. Ach! That’s disgusting! Natascha wiped her hand on her jeans as she took a step back, colliding with the person standing behind her. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she started to say, but upon realizing she was staring straight into a man’s chest, raised her eyes just as he started to sputter, “No, no. My fault!”


This happens in movies not in real life my my what nice eyes I wonder if she drinks beer and maybe just maybe she does because she’s trying to cross the street too and the tavern’s right over there and I can’t believe I’m acting like this at my age get a grip and say something out loud dammit.

Natascha smiled. No longer am I a stranger in this ludic world. Chocolate eyes stood smiling down at her. Then a quick glimpse past her left shoulder. “Ach! We’ve missed the light!” Natascha brought her right hand up to apply pressure in smooth and practiced circles.