Burgeoning from young adulthood into regular adulthood, you’re picking up on a couple of tricks that we forget to teach people. One of which being: you get used to most things, it just takes practice. The hard carapace of reality hadn’t formed entirely yet, but you’re used to things like laundry and taxes. Something you were having trouble getting used to however was the homeless man who began appearing in the parking lot and staring out into the darkness during your shift. You never saw him eat, sleep, beg for money, or do drugs. Just for a couple hours during each of your shifts, he would face the open gulf of the sky with his arms open and hold the position until he left more than three hours later. You’ve asked the cops about it and they said that he’s not causing a disturbance so they weren’t allowed to do anything.
Quickly, you found yourself becoming infatuated with him. Was he dangerous? Is he waiting for something? You wanted to know so much more, but you dare not approach. Your narrow world view won’t allow you to drift that far from the safe, cold cash register.
You didn’t notice at first that time stopped, but then you realized little things. The dust particles coming off the halogen lights suspended in midair. Moseying shoppers froze in the midst of conversation and perusing goods. Even the clock halted. You were confused, but then you realized what was happening.
Callie walked in.
Her walk was effortless; she glided on a cloud of mist of damp summer humidity meeting the frigid air conditioning of the store. The glow of the sun had turned her skin supple copper and her strawberry blonde hair tied in a disheveled bun, glowed with life and chlorine. A microcosm of the store and of you existed within the vast rims of her mirrored sunglasses. She carelessly chewed gum as she walked straight toward the register. Effortless.
You’ve been shamelessly in love with Callie Monaco since high school. She was the first one to teach you about Dickinson and Emmerson. She questioned why men couldn’t wear dresses and why Uhura took orders from Kirk. She knew that Africa was being exploited into the modern day before you realized it had been exploited in the past. A bunch of the poems you memorized by heart were probably first read to her by a string of sleazy boyfriends, but nevertheless, Bluebird still helped you sleep at night.
You worked together on the boardwalk making popcorn and hotdogs. While everyone else was having your summer, you and your dirtbag friends were part of your own secret world that would smoke pot after you shift and watch the sunrise, plotting to take over the world. A small smolder of that dream still burned in your chest. It’s difficult to handle and hard to entirely snuff out.