What the hell am
She watches him
disappear through her window, her unexpected wedding guest. A groom
awaits her on the other side of a door and she’s hanging on the
curve of a smile that’s not really hers and a future that only ever
appears in the distance on a night like tonight, distant and unsteady
like a star.
She reminds herself
as she climbs over the windowsill that every day she’s put between
herself and that final night in the lounge has been hard won, and that letting herself return to whatever this had been is a luxury she
can’t afford. She’d settled into a
new life with the good pastor, and the need of the people had slowly
drawn out the poisonous hope of fingertips brushing through her hair
as lenses fell into place and her world drew into focus on eyes dark
with intent never spoken.
It’s hard to linger
on a moment that never really happened when right in front of you are
the realities of preventable disease and overwhelming pressure to do
much with little, and she’d been grateful for the time and distance
that now seems to have dwindled into nothing in the space of only a
moment or two stolen on a fire escape.
forgotten him in the heat of an early Haitian spring, but then his
letters had landed like snowflakes, instantly recognizable and
fleeting in their comfort. It was hard also to know if the peace that
settled on her when she read them was the note of home they carried,
or if the chord struck was something harder to identify and harder
still to forget.
The sheet held
awkwardly to her chest trails down her leg and her footing shifts. The fabric slides across polished boards, pitching her into the
closet, but big, warm hands catch her. They hold her steady as she
pulls her other leg through the window. There will be a bruise on her
knee, but that’s a worry for tomorrow. Right now the only thing that
aches is her pride.
You try'na bust
your face open? he asks. His grip on her arm is tight, and he
holds her in place long after the threat of a fall has passed. She
meets his eyes, because looking away is another kind of truth she doesn’t want to tell. At least this way he knows she heard him, and he
knows that she doesn’t need him to catch her ever again. Another man
waits for her only a few steps away, and when she goes to sleep
tonight she’ll be free of this. And happy. Of course she’ll be happy.
He looks away first
and he leaves her to change into her glad rags, change into the last
thing she’ll ever don before she leaves this old life she’s been
trying to shake off since she was old enough to believe in princes.
The white dress is ruined, but she was never a white dress girl. Her
mother would have insisted on red, she thinks, but she hadn’t waited
for her mother’s wisdom. Her best friends would have closed ranks
around her and built a new dress from the remains of the old like fairy godmothers, but she’d
chosen to do this without their giggling, familiar warmth.
has Danny Castellano, and the way he looked at her when she wore
scrubs, once upon a time.
She knows as she
slips them on that she’s making the wrong choice for the man who
waits patiently at a makeshift alter with a paper banner and flowers
picked up from newsstands. He’s looking for the girl who glitters and
laughs easily. Which is who she is, sometimes. Maybe not tonight though, but they’ll muddle through.
The music starts and
she turns the handle, her wedding march ill chosen she realizes too
late. Why didn’t she pick a song about forever, or a song about
happily ever after?
in the way you love me won’t let me be
Her heart pounds and
she looks at her husband-to-be. If she looks straight ahead she can
let this old life go, she knows it.
don’t want to be your prisoner so baby won’t you set me free
But he’s looking at
her again, the way he always does, his dark eyes burning through to a heart she can’t share with him now. A heart that he never even asked to have. She knows in this moment he’s
finally giving her the only gift he has left. It makes the tiny concession
she’s made on this day feel less like a betrayal and more like
treaty. The way to end this in peace.
He’s never asked for
glitter, or easy smiles.
He only ever asked
her to wear blue on her wedding day.
- for city-bright