in a rush

by Raksha Narasimhan
Art by Chloe Kim
Issue: Aphelion (Spring 2016)

i met her
on a gloomy day back in manhattan
the skies were crying and
i had to blink back the aftermath
of a fight with my wife over the phone
it was a quarter to 6 and i’d have to run to make it home in time for dinner
or risk another night of shouts and icy silences

excuse me, sir, but why are you in a rush? she asked me with a warm smile
even though her face was red and she was shivering
I have a dinner to make i replied and turned around
where are you headed? she asked again
and i was cold and tired and hurting but i pivoted and replied
home–and you

i don’t know, she replied
and threw her head back and laughed
what do you mean i asked as my face grew hot
well, i don’t have a home, she told me

and it was a sad line
and i could see the tendrils of pain behind that small smile
but the way she said it
eyes aglow
dancing flames
above a pale smirk
it didn’t seem so sad

i opened my mouth hesitating
on whether or not to invite her over for
a hot cup of tea and a walk in the rain
but when i turned
she wasn’t there

a thud
the screech of a vehicle speeding away
and a slight figure sprawled on the streaked street
a helpless doe quivering
and when i rushed over to help her
shoes soaking
she turned her pale face toward me

excuse me, sir, but why are you in a rush?