I pulled my jacket closer to my body as if it could harness more heat to repel the scalding wind that’s been prickling my skin. The sky was a dreary bluish gray in contrast to my awkward orange boots, mulching in the puddles as I walked in this rainy February morning.
Hmmm… at least my toes are toasty, I mused.
Walking down the familiar street to my apartment building, doors and windows were right where I left them – shuttered in. Sleep didn’t come to claim me the night before and I thought a morning stroll would satiate this churning stomach of mine.
I had tried to eat bread but I would just throw it back up. So, I gave up on that endeavor altogether.
My ulcer has been getting worse.
I have been getting worse.
Slowing my pace, I counted the gravel littering the paved road, brought by the wind from the construction site two apartment buildings away. The familiar patterns and cracks of the cement summoned even more pain on my belly. And, I couldn’t help but remember…
I remembered when he used to be next to me, walking back to our apartment – when we were still roommates.
The heat in those eyes when he talked about his girlfriend, like the big bang happened all over again. The colors, the collision, the explosive passion and desire that lit him up made my chest squint often enough that breathing felt rewarding. He was this glow that captured the attention of everyone with a smidge of a smile. A blazing hearth that just refused to die.
But, then the west wind blew him my secret…
He rushed me against the wall and slammed his fist on my jaw. Shock grabbed the steering wheel, then disbelief, then anger, then confusion until suddenly I could hear him again. And with a pinch of courage, I met his black eyes, ice cold; seething as the morning I’m trapped in and dead serious with loathe, “I never want to see your goddamn face again,”
A cold gust swooped in and – sighing – I realized I was standing in front of the bakery where I last saw Michelle. Mr. Garcia had just raised the lock; open for business at exactly 5am.
“Good Morning, Mike” he greeted.
“Cold Morning, Mr. Garcia.”