I put songs to all of my faces. See the way they walk? Some slow, some fast, some dawdling; they all have a rhythm. They all have a history. They all have a story, a song. That’s my freedom, to take the time to sit and watch them pass. And I wish they could all be as free, you know?
The Mom with her little daughter; I see her a lot. She’s so worried about something and sometimes I see her shiver. Makes me wish someone would take her in that warm cafe across the street and sit her down with a cup of hot chocolate. And just tell her everything will be ok. Take that burden from her, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Chase that haunted look from her eyes. Maybe that person could be me. She’s a sad song, a long song. She’s lost, but I hope will be found.
Old Charlie comes to watch me draw sometimes. He can really make me laugh. Comes up behind me squinting hard, telling me I’ve put this or that or the other thing in the wrong place. He was drinking early today, so I know this has not been a good day for him. He hobbled all hunched up like an eighty-year-old over to the cafe, bowed as if the weight of the entire world was resting on his back. His tune changes, does Charlie’s.
A woman comes and sits in the little chair opposite me and smiles. She has a narrow face, framed with cropped blonde hair. I draw her and we exchange a few words. I’ve seen her before. I don’t forget faces. She’s always in and out of the library and she eats her lunch right here in the park on fine days. It’s nice to chat with her. I find out her name and that she likes swimming but not running and she loves to read crime stories. But never romance. She pulls a face and I laugh. What would she think if I drew the funny face she made? Her song is a happy one and she walks fast, like she knows just where she’s going.
A girl in red walks by on her way to the cafe, a flower nodding in her hair. She’s one I’d like to draw.
I pack up and head to college. Life-drawing class tonight. The model is so thin I wonder if she’s anorexic. Her hair is long and smooth and her face is pretty but I hate to look at her ribs. I imagine her going home to a very cold room, where there’s nothing in the fridge but a spray of limp celery. Makes me feel hungry just to look at her. She’s all angles, sharp edges and bone. She’s jittery and I think she bites her nails. She’d be a remix. Fast and hard.