I Can Go Out

I can go out. Put on my padded coat, big gloves, boots, red cap, zip up. I can unlock the door, hit the step, step out into the bright day. Pick my way across the flags, down past the office, through the gate, out into the street. I can wait at the crossing, cross, stand with the cluster at the stop, get on the bus when it comes, validate my card, find a seat. I can ring the red bell, get off, step onto Tongil-ro, disappear down into Exit 4 of Hongje Station. I can go through the turnstiles, clack with my heels down more steps to the platform, choose right or left, respond to the bugle announcing the train’s approach, get on when the doors open, swing from the strap when there is no seat, take a seat when there is, give it up to a man with a cane in a way that looks like I do not give it up but get off. Watch. I can get off at my stop, and make my way up to the surface again. I can find the new street, walk to places I’ve never been, meet people I’ve never met, build a cat’s cradle of talk over lunch of fish and chips (me) and mussels (him). I can reverse everything, go back down the hill, down the steps, through the tunnels, up onto Tongil-ro, onto the 7738, back down Yeonhui-ro, take the right turn, and get off at the Community Center. I can walk home. Put my hand through the gate if it’s closed and draw back the bolt. Walk through the gardens, the closed door of the office, climb the steps, come to my front door, enter the code, close down the cover, hear the buzz, and get in.

Quinn Byrne