Writing Prompt Wednesday is a concept kindly borrowed from Honestly Austen.
I pass a homeless woman on my way to the park. She has two months to live, and I wonder if they’ll all be spent like this: paper cup on the sidewalk half-full of spare change, squatting just inside the boarded up doorway of the old Jersey Mike’s.
I give her a twenty. She flashes me a wide, watery smile.
“Bless you,” she whispers.
I’m passing by the bank when some asshole in a blue suit bumps into me. He’s wearing a bluetooth headset and doesn’t even look at me.
“Sorry about that,” he says–to the person on the phone. “It’s a zoo out here.”
He has forty-five years to live.
As I walk by the tinted, highly-polished windows, I catch my own reflection, and the faint outline of all the people passing by. Numbers flash: twelve years, six months, sixteen years.
The only blank spot is right over my own skull. You’d think that would bother me, but honestly? It’s a comfort. I don’t want to know.
I finally hit the park. It’s not a great day to be outdoors, really: there’s this sort of heavy haze over everything, and at ten in the morning it’s already humid. I can tell it’s going to rain later, like it has every day for the last week.
There’s a group of people doing yoga near the monument. I give them a wide berth, and make my way towards the old oak in the corner, by some bushes that sort of hide a nearby drainage ditch. If you close your eyes it sounds like a stream, which is why I like it.
But there’s somebody there–a man, sitting on the grass, leaning back against the trunk and reading a book.
I stumble, even though the ground is completely flat here. I’m literally thrown, because above his head isn’t a number. It’s a symbol: a double-loop.
He must have heard me trip, because he looks right at me.
“Hi.” He sounds…cautious.
“Hi.” I take the last few steps towards him. “So…good book?” It’s lame, and now that I’m close up I feel even lamer, because this guy is kind of good-looking: Asian, long black hair pulled back in a ponytail, wire-framed glasses, strong jaw line.
But my eyes keep drifting up to that symbol.
He smiles and holds it up so I can read the cover: Black Holes and Time Warps. “I might’ve bitten off more than I can chew.”
I hesitate, then sit down a few feet away. “Physics was never my thing either.” I’m not sure what I’m doing. I want to know what’s up with that infinity symbol, but I also want to…I don’t know…tell him about it? But I don’t want to sound like a nut, one of those people who comes up to you and starts talking about the CIA’s secret training camps in caves in Switzerland.
“What is your thing?” He doesn’t say it in a flirty way, just curious.
“Photography.” I have my camera in a bag slung over my shoulder–not a fancy camera bag, couldn’t afford that. I nod towards the book. “What made you pick it up?”
“I’m not sure.” He flips the book over, studies the cover. “I’ve always liked stargazing. You can’t really see them anymore, though.” He sounds…it’s not exactly sad. It sounds like what comes after sad, when you’ve had a couple of years to come to terms with it.
“What, the stars?”
He nods. “Too much night light. I remember…” Then he pauses, looks back at me. “You don’t know, do you?”
I lean back a few inches. “Know what?”
His eyes drift up–to the spot just over my head. “You can see it, can’t you.”
“…yes.” It should be a relief, to acknowledge it, but I’m too bowled over to feel much at all just then.
“Yours is the same.”
“The same as mine.” He nods towards me–or rather, the spot where I always assumed my number was. “Infinity.”
This should be blowing my mind. It should probably worry me. But–
“Would you like to get a cup of coffee?” He smiles, and it’s a little hesitant, but it’s honest. “We can talk.”
“Yeah.” I stand up, and so does he. “There’s a Starbucks over there.” I pause. “But if you don’t mind walking…”
His lips quirk a little bit, like he’s trying not to grin.
“I’ve got time.”