Monday 27 October 2014

Star Gazing: A Short Story

She leaned against the lamp post, the cold metal warming her through a thin grey hoodie, her folded arms blocking the logo across her chest except for a 'T' and a '7'. Every night she would stop by this same lamppost on her way home and just watch as the rest of the world went about their lives. There were the usual suspects most nights but this close to the center of downtown, there were always new faces to observe. She liked people watching – in a way it relaxed her – to see glimpses of people’s lives without really invading on their privacy.
Across the street she saw an old couple walking hand in hand. The gray-haired woman was assisting the balding man as he shuffled slowly, a pair of worn brown shoes the only thing protecting his swollen, wrinkled feet from the harsh elements of the October air. She remembered that a new seniors’ home had been erected just down the street so their destination was not in question. She wondered, however, why they were out at such an odd hour of night. The only couples who frequented these streets at night tended to be thugs and hookers – not a place for a sweet elderly couple. They continued to move along, seemingly impervious to the cold and surroundings until the man began hacking and coughing. Instantly the woman was squeezing his hand and using the other to pat his back with soothing forcefulness until the coughing subsided into slight wheezing. The man took out a green silk hanky from his baggy sweatpants and sputtered a few more times into it, wiped his nose with a loud sniffle and returned it to his pocket. They continued walking at a much slower pace.
Deciding that their fate rested with themselves, she turned her attention elsewhere.
A young couple in their early twenties turned the corner at the top of the block, stumbling into the brick wall as they did. The woman, dressed in a short mauve skirt and black overcoat, had managed to place the majority of her weight on the man, falling into his side every few steps. He was giggling and running his hands up and down her sides, groping her breasts and generally marking his territory. She hated those couples. The ones who took a wrong turn after pouring out of some nightclub and ended up stumbling around and generally disturbing the peace. They took a few more steps before the woman tripped over her feet and found safety with her back against the cold outside wall of a building. The man – not one to waste opportunities – pressed himself over the woman, resting his hands on the brick above her head, effectively trapping her. The giggles quickly subsided as he lowered his head to her height and placed sloppy kisses on the side of her mouth until he managed to reach his destination. They continued in that manner, just sort of sloppily tonguing each other’s teeth, until the woman suddenly broke into fits of giggles and pushed her partner away, dragging herself with him. She fell against the side of his body and they continued to walk along the sidewalk.
Shaking her head, the girl continued to look around.
A car door at the top of the street suddenly opened and what appeared to be a woman’s sparkly ass came into view followed by a long pair of silky brown legs and a pair of impossibly high heels. Her hand came up to grip the top of the door as her face came into view through the door hinge. She was pretty – not overly so but she was attractive enough – and probably worth the price any man paid for her. It was only then that the actual car became apparent. It was a navy Ford Taurus that seemed a little beat down by time and weather but not anymore than the rest of the cars on the block. The fatal difference seemed to be in the slightly steamed windows, obscuring the driver’s face from view. After a moment, the woman stood upright with a seductive smirk still plastered on her face as she closed the door and lightly tapped the roof of the car. She immediately took a step to cross the street and must have missed the obvious roar of the engine because an instant later, the car she had just stepped out of, swerved onto the street with a screech, nearly clipping her as it passed. Jumping back onto the sidewalk, clinging to the hem of her shirt in surprise, she recovered enough to gesture the driver and double check that no other cars were approaching the street. Once she was sure it was relatively safe, she sauntered across the street, managed to pass under the spotlight as she turned to walk up the steps of a building. Her face wasn’t caked with as much makeup as what would be expected but she was still wearing a bit too much for the girl’s taste. She watched as the woman pulled a key out of her small clutch and placed it in the lock. Turning it, she didn’t bother looking over her shoulder as she opened the door and closed it with an echoing click.
Out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of a man whose face was mostly covered by a dark blue hoodie. What she did see was a slightly pointed nose and wisps of dark brown hair that seemed disheveled and disoriented. His hands were buried deep in his generic hoodie pockets and his jeans were starting to fade a little too much. She only caught a sight of his eyes once as he continued to twitch his head every way searching for some unquestioned answer. They were a pale blue under the cover of darkness and seemed bloodshot and tired. As his hands shifted in his pockets he rocked back and forth slightly as he continued at a fairly steady pace. His steps didn’t falter until he looked around and made direct eye contact with her. Neither expression changed – except for his eyes widened – nor his pace only swayed a moment before he stalked passed her and across the street, entering a familiar building and nearly slamming the door before he caught the handle and guided it closed.
He hadn’t realized he was hyperventilating until he became light-headed as he began the three flights of stairs to his room. He paused against the door to the second floor to hold his chest and catch his breath, his eyes shooting open at the effort before he continued his journey, using the barely-there railing for little support. He finally made it up the last flight of stairs and he walked down the hallway, his footsteps echoing in the night air, clutching his fist in his pocket he pulled out a small, rusty key. He fumbled the key between his hands before he gripped it hard enough to shakily move it towards the lock. No matter how many times he tried, he could not keep the key steady enough to fit it into the hole. An arm came around his waist and a slender hand snaked around his wrist to grip his hand with the offending object. Jumping in surprise, he turned to see a girl with too much make up on smiling kindly at him. He instantly relaxed and his hand steadied enough for the two of them to guide the key into the lock and turn it. He looked at the woman with a weak smile. She offered a head tilt and a teasing grin before she turned on her impossibly high heels and took the few steps to cross the hall and enter the apartment directly across from him. He watched her wink at him as she closed the door with a gentle confirmation.
He stared at her door with a goofy, surprised grin before he reached behind him to turn the now unlocked knob and sink into his own apartment. He barely remembered to grab the key and toss it into a ceramic bowl beside the door before closing it and quickly unzipping his hoodie. Throwing the clothing anywhere he could find, he stretched his arms above his head, still feeling tremors in his chest as he made his away over to the tiny window offering the only source of light in the apartment. By the time he was close enough to peer out the window, he was dressed in a white t-shirt, a pair of striped blue boxers and white tube socks. He looked out, clearing his head from the day’s interesting events and just watched the people on the street.
Just under his window, he saw an elderly couple shuffle around the corner, the woman seeming to sway with the effort of carrying her and her partner. He briefly wondered if she was alright before he turned to the other people on the street.
There was a girl barely twenty years old leaning against a lamp post, illuminated by the light, not waiting for anything in particular just looking around in curiosity. She wore a grey hoodie but he couldn’t read the logo across her chest. She had long brown hair, flung down her back and wide, brown eyes that were peering off into space. He smirked. She was cute – a little young for his tastes – but she was interesting. He’d seen her many times before but they’d never made any sort of conversation. He always had the feeling that it would be best to leave her be. But leaving people alone was usually the best course of action in this neighbourhood. After all, young women stood alone under streetlamps and young men walked around in their underwear and no one really seemed to care.
Assuming that she would still be leaning against the same pole in a few minutes, he turned his attention to the only other bodies in the street.
There was a woman leaning against the side of a car, bent uncomfortably as a man kissed his way down the middle of her neck, holding onto the back of her head, the other hand out of his line of sight. Her hands were nowhere to be seen and the thought made his eyebrows rise. The man continued to kiss any skin that was exposed which seemed to be quite a bit. His other hand suddenly became visible as it came up to the top of her tight-fitting button-down. His fingers lingered on the button of her shirt as his eyes opened the man looked up to catch him watching them with an amused smirk. He was suddenly drawn from his people watching as the telephone rang on his cluttered kitchen table and he was forced to leave the sanctuary of the window to answer it.
The moment the man’s figure left the window, he smiled down at his girlfriend and pulled her up to open the unlocked car door and slip inside. He slid into the driver’s seat and pulled her down into his lap, their lips never breaking except for short giggles and moans. Now straddling him with her knees sinking into the seat beside his hips, she brought both of hands into his hair to play with the dirty blonde locks as he pulled her impossibly close. Her tongue roughly tasted the inside of his mouth as she felt his desire growing. Encouraged, she rocked her hips into his as his fingers once again found her top button not waiting to slip it out of the hole, giving him more skin to caress with his other hand. After the third button had been undone torturously slow, her tongue left his to allow him to kiss all of her exposed skin. He had just begun to suck on her pulse point when he vaguely heard a tapping on the clouding windows. After the second tap, he was certain there was someone trying to get their attention. Breathing heavily, he pushed her off his lap and placed her onto the passenger seat, allowing her to fumble with her buttons as he pressed down hard on the window. It was down half way before he finally caught sight of the one responsible for interrupting the alcohol-hazed make-out session that he would barely remember in the morning.
The girl was barely twenty years old – if that – her brown hair was clinging to her face, obscuring her tortured features. Her grey sweater and jeans were completely covered in blood except for a ‘T’ and a ‘7’. She didn’t say anything save for crying incessantly and reaching her red stained hands into the car searching for something to grab a hold of. He didn’t need to look over to know that his girlfriend was just as freaked out, unsure what to do. The girl’s face was streaked with freshly-shed blood and tears and her clothes appeared to have several cuts and rips across her chest and arms. She continued to reach for some unknown object in the car until her brown eyes slowly clouded over. Her crying became less frantic and more subdued as she began to sink lower down the car. She leaned forward close enough to breathe down his neck before she must have lost her footing because she slipped faster and he cringed. He heard her forehead make contact with the edge of the half-closed window and linger for half a second longer than it should have before she collapsed in a pile beside his door, her head making contact with the cold concrete.
The couple stayed silent for a long moment, not looking at each other. After what seemed like forever, the man pulled himself up enough to look out the window – afraid of hitting her with the car door – and peered down. His girlfriend, meanwhile, had opened her door and daintily ran around the car – leaving her door open – to uncomfortably kneel beside the girl. She cringed as she brushed damp hair away from the girl’s neck in order to check for a pulse. Finding none, she glanced up at her worried boyfriend before standing, her legs stiff from the skirt, and glancing around.

The street was empty. The lamp she had stood under flowed steadily and not a single sound disturbed the echo of the city around them. Nothing moved or breathed as the woman glanced down at her boyfriend with pure terror in her eyes. Silently, she walked casually around to the passenger seat and closed the door as she slid in. By that time, he had fished his keys out of his now looser jean pocket and was turning it into the ignition. Shifting into gear, the only sound that could be heard on the street was the sound of tires screeching as they pulled out onto the street and drove off, leaving a barely breathing girl bleeding on the sidewalk.
© 2014 Victoria Trask All Rights Reserved

No comments:

Post a Comment