let’s take a walkPosted: September 11, 2010
We’re walking outside, the three of us, aimlessly wandering down a street that’s too dark to be considered safe.
The closest street light is a few yards away and getting closer, its pale orange glow casting shadows onto the dirty pavement. Something crunches beneath my feet, ad I realize I’m walking in the gravel scattered throughout the street while the others were staying relatively clean on the sidewalk. I try to sidle them, stepping up onto the curb, only to move away not five seconds afterward to avoid making a fool of myself by running into a tree. So the street it was.
We stop at an intersection and yield to a set of headlamps moving at a particularly dangerous speed. I make my way back up to the sidewalk, this time standing behind the pair. As it always is. To my right is someone no more than six inches taller than I am, scratching the back of his head with one hand and reaching into the pocket of a worn out jacket with the other. It produces a crushed pack of Marlboros, which subsequently produces a lighter and a crinkled cigarette. He begins his attempt to light it. The person to our left, the person I’d rather be with, looks back towards me. Her eyes are apologetic, as if taking responsibility for the situation.
I hate smokers.
Every time she looks back at me, I wonder what she’s trying to convey. This time, it was obvious. Others, not so much. I can’t stop thinking about it, those teasing glances that are sent my way when she knows I’m looking. I can’t stand not knowing the right moment to grab hold of her arm for just a few steps, allowing the smoker to walk ahead of us while we spend a few seconds in each others company. Every time I want to, they seem to start speaking once more. We cross the street, and I notice someone sleeping on a bus stop bench. If only I got to rest. The three of us have been walking for around for hours.
It’s obvious that we’re lost, we just have excuses for not admitting it. The Smoker, who’s leading this little excursion, is stubborn, I’m weak-willed enough to not mess with the status quo and she’s just coming along for the adventure. “There’s this awesome little bar just down the street from here,” he said, as the three of us partook in a dinner only two of us were invited to, a dinner which lasted well into the wee hours of the morning, “I know the owner. He’s a bit of a prick,” Funny, I was thinking the same thing about him when he said that. “…But I’m pretty sure he can score us some free drinks.” The Smoker rapped three of his fingers in succession on the restaurant table. “What do you think?”
“Sounds like fun,” she said, ruining the evening.
So, in a blur of tablecloths and receipts, I found myself in the cooling October air with the girl I want to be with and a guy that I have no intention of ever seeing again. He’s onto his next cigarette, and I can already smell the smoke making its way between the fibers of my recently dry-cleaned shirt. Each step the Smoker would take would result in a cloud of smoke that only I had to walk through. There’s a lull in the conversation, so I decide to make my move. I extend my arm to tap her on the shoulder, a quiet little, “Slow down, why don’t you?” about to be sent in code. The Smoker suddenly stops walking, and I nearly run into his elbow.
“Ah, here we are.”
The lights are dark, the door is obviously bolted shut. There aren’t sounds of conversation permeating through the cracks in the doorways and windows. I check my watch and it’s nearly four. The bar is obviously closed. I watch as a light wind passes us, floating away some of the ashes from the Smoker’s cigarette. She’s still standing next to him, and I note how the breeze is tousling her hair. “Shit happens, eh?” I quip. It’s the first quip I’ve made this entire trip.
“Shit always happens,” he says, exhaling a long drag from his cigarette. “You just have to get the timing right.”