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Once Upon a Grey Morning
The train tracks overhead hammered from eardrum to eardrum in a roaring beat of self- pity. The sun was new and the clouds hung in clusters of grey autumn skies throughout the city as the lake that lied beyond stared back with its rough tides; there were few boats out there, the winds were too strong, too cold. Even the bustling tourists along the streets seemed to rush in heavy footsteps to the tragic museums of repeating histories. The walls of the Two-B apartment were an estranged color of rotten copper left behind by the Prohibition boys slapping bricks to mortar rather than drinking cheap brews. The Prohibition, she thought as her eyes stared up toward the old and angered ceiling, would have done her well.
The pouring shower mocked her in streams of pounding noise and clean steam that puffed itself into the room from beyond the door. Her phone shook itself on the nightstand and shook her as in her surprise she pulled the auburn sheets, clutched tightly in her arms, fiercely to her chest. She sighed with a breath found in a guilty man, realized her own momentary stupidity, and picked it up. The blurry and stirring screen read “Sarah Mc: so, kyle said u nevr cam hom last nit?...” She rolled her eyes and tossed her phone away.
The floor was a laundry basket for the late night mistakes and hazy phrasings of words forgotten before they could have ever been meant. Dirty from the city air, moist with the sweat of a new fad to the tune of an old sin under the neon lights of the city’s darkest corners, and underneath a layer of her dress and his pants was a hardwood floor of a deep brown that held the wild oats of a young man. With the rush of a vibrant chill that ran up from her toes as they first touched the floor, her pace quickened, gathering all the loose pieces of her morality. With her dress halfway past her knees, she fumbled with her heels, and as she began to walk before either were in place, she collapsed under herself with a bang against the floor.
The white door to the bathroom flew open, steam spilled in rapid gusts of hot and hazy perceptions, and a man emerged, wrapped only in a green and yellow striped towel, his skin still glistening, face unshaven, and white suds still in his hair; the shower was now silent. He stood over her, dripping his beads of boiling chills onto the floor. She lay under him, staring past the stacks of decaying books, and seeing a pair of feet just before her; she wrapped herself in her eyelids, and squeezed hard enough to hope. The phone rattled once more from the nightstand.
“Anne, you all right?” he asked. His was a voice of contradiction, deep enough to dominate, soft enough to comfort.
“Yeah, sure,” she huffed as she blew the hair from her face. Grunting, she pulled herself up with one arm, the other clinging to the bed sheets that she found on the floor, but now once again covered her chest and shoulders. She coughed toward him, beat him down with her eyes until he turned around so that she might properly resume dressing behind the cover of auburn.
“Alright, well, I’ll be done in just a few, and then we can grab breakfast downstairs,” he said as the door closed behind him. She closed her eyes, hard, and ran her hand over them and down her face. “Oh!” he exclaimed as he peeped himself out from the door, “don’t forget your phone.”
“Yeah, thanks,” she grumbled sarcastically as she sat down on the edge of the bed and picked up her phone. The screen stated “Sarah Mc: so, ttly covrd 4 u, but wat the hell happnd 2 u and tim last nit!?!” She took her purse and threw her phone into it.
The sky was turning in shades of grey, and from itself, emerged a black cast amongst the stone buildings that each took it upon themselves to reach higher into the rain. Thickly painting the window in heavy thuds, the rain began as promised. Turning away from her right, to the left was the white bathroom door still spitting silent steam. Before her was a black, metal door in the poorly lit corner which led to the poorly lit hall of old musk and cold dew; also, most notably, before her was a mirror. Its frame was a patched and chipped-away mix of white and oak. The mirror itself had a small collection of cracks in the bottom left corner and was completely foggy in the blurred tones of grey and browns reflected by the room.
From the clutch of her purse her phone shook once again. She opened it and stared at yet another message of warm morning wishes, “Sarah Mc: wat r u goin 2 tel kyle!?!” She turned to her right; she didn’t have an umbrella, she noted. She looked forward at the pointless blurs of herself and at the corner door. And then she stared at the white door, looked down at her phone, and then back at the sweating door.
The door suddenly opened, and threw her heart halfway up her throat, and from the steam the man emerged. Behind him was a haze of white through which only spotless white tiles laid beyond. Dressed in a bright blue of summer sky, jeans of pigeon blue, and a freshly wet head of soft blonde hair, he paced past her and over to the dresser. He put on a casual blazer, fixed his collar, and as he came to the poorly lit door in the corner, looked back at her and asked “you coming?”
In its perfect timing, her phone buzzed for a fourth time. In a nervous and anxious set of fumbling motions, she took the phone from her purse and read “Sarah Mc: wat r u doin? wat shud i tel kyle?” She looked back at the man who was standing in the open doorway, waiting, and then put her thumbs to the keyboard and replied “tel him im goin to breakfast with tim.” She put her phone away for the morning, and left through the doorway, leaving the auburn sheets and foggy mirror behind her.