I went to work. I ventured into the darkened evening to teach a class I never want to teach, a class nobody wants to attend to, a class no one attended to. I waited in the classroom for over an hour and now I go out:
I walk slower than normal; I have time to do so. In fact, I have more time than I would want to have. When did this happen, when did the world slow down on me? I take the long way to the subway and I don’t go down the stairs at the first entrance I find. I rather walk until the farthest of the entrances available. I walk at a steady pace and I look around, as if by doing so I would find the one face I would like to see, the one face my eyes long to find on those cold streets. It’s cold and I walk alone. The wind does its damage where my clothes fail to protect me. I think of you; you texted me earlier today and I decided not to reply right away for I know there is nothing I can say that could bring you back to me. I waited until just now to look back at my screen.
It’s a very cold night, this one.
I put myself out there and type the message “you can still turn around” but I know you are not turning around, at least not for me. The streets feel colder with this wind that now defeats my clothes in places that are not even their weakest. I walk alone. I stare around. I stare at people, wishing them to be you; I want them all to have you face, I want them all to walk towards me with your legs and all of them to talk to me with that your voice. But no, I only stare at blank people, staring into the bottomless screens of their phones.
A shop and another shop. A place we once ate at, a place we once laughed at. Two more steps and an open area where the wind is stronger than my will; I think of you once more, review more of those moments we spent together and in my chest a cold dagger that no jacket can stop damages the simple rhythm of my heart.
I walk until the end of that food street that is surprisingly bustling with life; smiles everywhere, couples enjoying their time. I get to where the steps will take me underground. I check my phone once more and I decide that is time to go down; I could have taken a bus home (I like buses when there’s time to be alone) but I didn’t want to go “home” because I don’t feel like being alone and in between walls by myself yet. I took the longer way hoping I would run into something else to do.
So I go in and I travel the tunnels; I wait while checking my phone, I get in and I wait for the doors to open once again –they do and I get off. I check my phone and still, nothing. I am about to go in the deep corridor that takes me and the never-ending mass of other lives from one subway line to the next one when I decide to text that I like the idea of us meeting for lunch one day after the holidays –I do before with a slight disregard, as if seeing you wasn’t the only thing I wanted the most in this world.
But again, no reply.
I get into that disgusting corridor of low ceiling and repeated pictures. I am about to vomit my heart out of loneliness so I take a break and look for your name on my screen but I know nothing will come from you tonight; you are good at this and hurting suits you well.
Then, the next train and the station. Suddenly my stop appears outside the windows so I push out and out I push. Now I have arrived and it’s too early for me to call it a night. I walk in the cold. I remember I have eaten little today and in my head I try to go through all the places that I could eat at this time of night; I remember there’s a shop I’ve eaten at a couple of times before, one of those places that have an ever oily cover on their tables. The walk is long and painful; three long streets that not only dark but also hidden in between bushes and parked cars stretches for blocks and blocks. At a certain point I stop and look into a dirty old alley that has a warm light besides a security guard’s post. Inside the guard’s concrete cabin, a television talks of greater lies. Apparently, my silhouette is a synonym of danger because the woman inside the claustrophobic post peers into the darkness and stares at me. I want nothing but to admire the beauty of that shitty little alley and that dusty light bulb that casts a poor but orange light on its far end, announcing the fence that separates the alley and the entrance to the building complex where for sure rats live better in their muddy holes and smelly sewers than the people in their tiny crowded rooms –those rooms contain more elements than memories their owners can evoke, their boxes are more pompous than the words that were said when those gifts were given to them and the products rot inside without even being tasted. It’s all so sad. I want nothing but admire the beauty of that depressing little alley that leads to those packed out apartments, homes that cost more money than I could probably ever make in my entire life. I want to stand there and look into the alley for it takes my mind away from you but that bitch keeps giving me that look of distrust, making me uncomfortable, making me feel wrong and dirtier than the clothes she wears, dirtier than the sheets she lays on and dirtier than the bowls she eats her food from. I can do nothing else but leave, continue my walk towards the shop I pretend to eat at. I hate her so much.
Traffic light, street crossed, a few more cold steps; I can almost taste the hot soup I’ll order and there it is –closed. I look at my phone (still nothing from you) and I realized I have a long night ahead of me. How do I make it back with such a pain?
I turn my back around and walk, again. At the entrance of the subway I make my last attempts of finding someone to talk to, someone to connect to, anyone who would spend time with me and remind me that are more things to smile about. But nothing, not you, not anyone. A girl sitting on the other side of a glass door looks up from her phone and seems interested in me for a fraction of a second; we meet eyes. I dare not going down the subway steps and wait there for a message or a reply. The gimmick of our eyes meeting happens two more times but even though that shop is a normal place to go in and wait like I was a person that had something or someone to wait for at a table as she does now I run away, I cowardly go into the station without even looking for a third encounter of our eyes.
A message, a friend. She’s finishing work but she’ll go somewhere else for a while and I am so weary of your silence that I say I rather go back home –“home”.
And I do.
–I think of that warm light breaking the darkness of that dirty alley. I should have confronted her, I should have walked inside, I shouldn’t have let you go. How much I hate that bitch.