Mustard

I lean against the wall. Easier than standing, safer than sitting. Never accustomed to the sharp angles of rest, the vertebrates of my spine iron themselves into submission. Seconds pass without my consent or observation. I iron the rest of me--face, neck, eyes, and clothes—trying to find the path of least resistance. My goal is not to be invisible, but to be unnoticeable. The employees, they can't see me down here. They won't tell me to go back outside. The customers, I hope, will not care if they see me.

I sit. Rain reaches toward me from the other side of the door and pulls across the tiled floor. I can hear the hustle and bustle on the other side of the counter-- odd how people work when there is nothing to be done. A slow night, a Tuesday, an ordinary day without fanfare or particular interest. Nothing at all to prepare for, really, but the end of it all. And, if you're preparing for the end by the beginning, or even by the beginning of the middle, aren't you really saying it's over before it's begun? People do that. And you could look at me and say that I’m preparing for the end, too.

But, me, I'm over. I'm done. I've been everywhere I needed to go, seen more than I'd like to have seen, and lost more than I ever thought I could gain. A tattered sole, I suppose, on the sidewalk, frayed and grayed and cut up and cut out. Left, really, to wait for all the other soles and watch as they are stepped on. There are not many soles tough enough to outlast the wear and tear, to hold out even when the universe is trying to pull their very fabric apart. To last beyond purpose, recognition, camaraderie, usefulness. Most hide out during these small, unimportant minutes, just as I hide here beneath the windows.

 I see an abandoned sock on the other side of the glass, once white, now a bleeding brown streaked with what just might be mustard. I see, too, the occasional shoe, sock, and pant leg swinging into view. Stressed feet, rushing legs, tired torsos swirling around like bees in a hive. They jump, a bit, when they see me. Pause for a moment of their busy lives and feel something-- pity, perhaps? Relief? Fear? And then they fly off again. Forgetting, as insects do, the happenstance of a few moments ago, thinking again of schedules and daycare and subprime product development shares. They are flies looking for the meat, unaware that they have only short hours to live.

Life is like that sometimes. You think you're safe--lying against the speckled white and purple tiles until you hear the jewel tones of a patron speaking to the manager. And then, when you realize what's going on, the matronly pant legs stand before you already. A voice from somewhere beyond is already threatening to phone the cops if you don't get your goddamn good-for-nothing ass out of here, didn't I tell you before? And then it's over, done, you're pushed out into the damp, dank, darkness of the sky, the cement, and the sidewalk. It's done and you're just another fly caught underfoot.

Next colour is purple.

The End

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