The sun is setting and the amber colored light of a mid-November sky baths my face with its almost non-existing heat. The wind runs briskly through the trees, shaking its autumn tinted leaves. The streets are deserted, everyone’s inside sitting in front of a crackling fire and warming up with mugs of hot herbal tea. Winter’s coming and, by the way the weather’s changing, I’m certain it’s going to be a violent one –cruel and full of wrath.
I walk through narrow alleys ̶ all brick buildings and flower-clad windowsills ̶ until I’m in the outskirts of town, the dimly lit houses far behind. The road is so familiar, the cracked pavement, the faded yellow stripes at the side, the tall dry grasslands embracing it, its every little detail buried deep in my mind, coming up only when evoked. This road is like a second home to me, in childhood I would ride my bike all the way to town just to get a small paper bag of lemon drops at Mrs. Spring’s candy store and now, at 28, I drag my feet along this cold humid floor at the crack of dawn to get to the public elementary school at the heart of town, where I’m a second grade science teacher –so much for MIT. This pavement was once fed by a red bicycle’s tires and now it lives off of my converse soles.
Something catches my eye. There at the center of the road shines a small object. I walk closer, picking it up. A key. I know whose it is…was. I put it in my back pocket and start walking faster, frantically. Blue ink starts to dye the sky and I know there’s not much time left –if there is any, that is. Thoughts come and go so fast that I can barely concentrate in such an easy task as it is walking, and being 6’5 as I am doesn’t make it any better. I stumble forward and fall, landing on all fours, my right hand crushing a cold metallic object. A coin. Her coin.
It was a typical summer day, hot and humid, the kind that suffocates. I was at the museum, the only one in a 35 mile radius, enjoying a small yet miraculous exposition on Ancient Roman Daily Life and, as I was standing in front of the ‘Kitchen Utensils’ section, I saw her. Dark curls, red tank top, long legs and a bracelet tied around her left ankle. I walked closer, she was admiring a set of old roman coins.
“Economist?” I joked, lamely.
“You don’t look much of a cook to me,” she said, smiling.
“Nuclear Engineer, just graduated,” I said, smugly. She laughed and shook my hand gently.
“College dropout,” she said proudly.
We had lunch together that day and finished the exposition, though not caring about it anymore. At the end of our non-official first date I got her an Ancient Roman coin, a replica obviously, and she has taken it with her everywhere ever since –she likes collecting all sorts of weird paraphernalia. It has been three years that we’ve been together, madly in love –or at least that’s what I thought.
The sky is now pitch black and there’s no way I’ll make it home in less than half an hour – no matter how fast I run- unless… I jump into the pond that divides the road from the small cottage in the woods. My soaked clothes weight me down, making me swallow half a gallon of stale water, the combination of wind and cold water freezing me in place. But I have to swim like never before. I glide through the moldy surface of the pond, each stroke getting me closer to where I’m hoping she’ll be.
The lights are out, the door on the small white fence hanging wide open. I walk closer, the latch is broken. A spark of hope lights inside of me. Maybe she’s upstairs, in our room, in our bed, sleeping peacefully. I run up the front steps, my drenched shoes slipping, and open the door. Too late. At the center of the coffee table rests, stoical, an engagement ring, waitingfor someone to claim it.
–Adriana Martinez Traslosheros.