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The Bird's Eye View
I looked down and realized there were soft patches of dirt covering my freckled skin. Despite all of my hours in the sun, I still remained a creamy white. I hastened to smear sun block on my cheeks as I stood in the grassy lot in front of the makeshift wooden stage with hundreds of strangers. I couldn’t help but fold my arms and look down, picking at the ends of my hair. I quickly braided the loose strands and let them fall over my shoulder and onto my black jumper. If only I wasn’t so damn pasty. Now I have to take the train all the way back to Trenton tonight with my shirt splattered with SPF 60 and beer. I always dodge the cup too late, this time a slender man with ultra-fine hair bumped into me, knocking me over into the gravel. I scanned the crowd for a familiar face and glanced at my tan suede watch. I could have sworn someone just said Joanna. My watch was clearly destroyed beyond repair. The beer had trickled down under the curved glass and soaked through the buckle. This gift from my grandfather was his only demonstration of the fact that we’re related and for this I resent it. Nonetheless it was the only gift from my family that I hadn’t stowed away in a plastic bin under my bed. I took a fat purple sharpie and labeled it in clear, tight lettering as “junk.”
Sometimes I prefer it down here, I noticed, on the ground. I can focus on the music and not the crowd when all I see is their jumping feet. My torso swayed as I took in a faint whiff of a stranger’s aftershave and I thought of the months I had searched for a way to plug in to my thoughts and out of my mind. The escalating beat and the vibrations in my chest brought me back to life.
Sam sat me down on his sunken leather couch with the Afrobeat melting out of his silver boom box. Sam’s gangly stature is only slightly different than the average I’m- a- college-grad- couch- potato’s physique. His evergreen eyes stand out against his strikingly tanned skin, but his back curves as if to tell the world he doesn’t care enough to stand up. I looked up at him with anticipation.
“Listen hun,” He started, clearly concentrating on locking his crystallized expression with mine. The second I heard hun, my radar turned on. “I’m skipping this town.” He paused to take his gaze from my eyes to the blank wall behind me.
Sam always changed my nicknames. I transformed from jelly bean to the stick after I picked up jogging. From there, the names became sickeningly sweeter. Sometimes when I was with Sam I thought of my father, sitting on his olive green ottoman reading. He used to call me Jojo instead of Joanna, but Sam’s names could have been used for any girl.
My father usually spent his days polishing his shoes, waiting for something more exciting to arise. Ever since he came home from the unemployment office with wrinkles etched in his brow and frustration in his eyes, he hasn’t done much of anything. Suddenly I wondered why I was listening to indie rock at a time like this; I should be back at home taking care of him. I could never have been the perfect honors student with a lacrosse scholarship to make him beam with pride, but I found my way through following the bands. When I couldn’t get to a gig I bonded with chips ahoy, eating my heart out to compensate for my lightening speed metabolism.
A couple of months ago, I convinced Sam to come to a gig with me. Friday afternoon I met him at a sandwich shop on a corner next to the bus terminal.
I quickly jumped to make conversation and spluttered “I really hope you like this band, I’ve only seen them once before and it was in a pub in the city. They’re kind of an acquired taste, but they’ll grow on you… hopefully. They’re called The Acrylics, I think they met up at art school in California or something,”
I could tell he was already bored by my rant, but I didn’t care. I was overly excited, spilling out details in a desperate attempt to please him. I know he has nothing to say to me, he’s always in his thoughts.
“Uh-huh, sure.” He mumbled, clearly focused on the insignia on his shoes.
As I looked up at Sam, I realized not only was he apathetic about going to this concert, but his mind wandered to another place. He scrunched up his face like he does when he makes plans.
When he ran, I wanted force all of my breath out into the chilled air. All I needed was one war cry for a hurt girl. I should have known he used this bus ride to execute a plan, entirely unknown to me. I must have done something to offend him, or his gut told him he had to go. Sam had always been an elusive one, right up to the moment he left me. He glanced back at me, gave me a little devilish wink, and broke out into a sprint until he passed the footbridge. He jumped on a streetcar and I never saw him again. There is no way his black drawstring backpack was only packed with books. This little lie shouldn’t have stung me more than the fact that ran, but it did. I guess I had expected it, but not so soon after that afternoon on his couch.
I shook the gravel off of my knees and stood up, only to realize that one of my wedges was missing. I don’t care because they’re doing a Paul Simon cover so I have to sing. I forced myself to recall the lyrics and I wouldn’t have to think about Sam. She said the man in the garbardine suit was a spy. I said be more careful, his bowtie is really a camera. Well done, I remembered it’s a garbardine suit, not a gardarbine suit, whatever that is. No one could possibly understand my mess that could be misconstrued as a life. My mediocre hobby and my abandoned love-life lead nowhere. All those people who are watching me from above must be so d*mn lost.