Fiction: The Loneliness Of The Short Distance Walker

July 21, 2016 Fiction , POETRY / FICTION

Seth Nenstiel



Sarah Ito



Morning. Again. Dusty rays of reluctant sunlight slanting in through a broken blind, bent and yellowed from the nicotine habits of tenants past. Morning. Also known as mourning. Daybreak, the gifter of new beginnings, old stale coffee puddled in a Styrofoam cup. Last night’s, still drinkable this a.m. And pain. Pain, like a clinging lover, jumpstarts the morning with a call to action, leading to a counter with its lineup of amber prescription bottles, eight, maybe ten, with a supposed and hoped-for remedy for every malady. One for  the stomach, squeezed by the fiery tendrils of hell. Two for the legs, one for left, one for right, one and one half for the nerves, a puff or two for the lungs, and a squirt in the eyes, lower corners. A chaser of tepid tap water, and the arsenal is downed. Boots. Pull on the boots. Old brown boots with cracks in the leather. Scrunchy bottoms, easier for walking. The jeans already on, slept in last  night. Sweatshirt, leather jacket, zipped, a few dollars crumpled in the pocket, just-in-case money, and keys. There must be keys. Keys swing from the door, one in the lock, forgotten the previous evening.

The steel door swings open to the invasion of daylight. The street is awash in daylight. Sunbeams bounce off the windshields of parked cars like some ethereal force field of goldenrod. Sunglasses are required to repel the intruding rays. Sunglasses are donned. A cough, a sneeze. The walk begins. At the corner, a sharp left. Onto Fifth and heading south, the senses now assailed by mechanical rumblings … it is trash day, the trucks are picking up; saggy leaking black plastic bags and blue recycling bins abound, the odor of cats and diapers leeching out into the damp air. A deep breath, exhale, forward, past 4th Street, storefronts now preparing for the market day, metal gates unlocked, sidewalks being swept with vigor by short dark men who smile easily. Cross 6th Street, then 7th. Spurts of traffic, mostly scrappy delivery vans and lime green taxis, interrupt the walk, but never end it. The walk, like the mourning, never ends. It just pauses to take a break, here and there, throughout the day, into the evening, chasing the dead of night into an uncertain dawn.

Walking across 9th Street. A major cross street, with buses wheezing as their hydraulic doors discharge sweaty passengers, baby strollers, shopping carts, school children. Screaming, cursing, a chastisement from a parent, giggling. South and southerly, to 20th Street and a slivered glimpse of  Manhattan’s skyline, gargantuan, shadowy behind the fog across the harbor. The walk halts. Gazing over, blinking hard at what isn’t there anymore, the blank on the horizon where love, hope, dreams, careers once collided on a narrow street and bankrolled a nation … and then a left, onto Sixth Avenue, north and down, the sun, hot now in its desire to burn, the pain returning, the walk slowing. The leather jacket, unzipped, comes off, a pill awaits, the walk continues. The walk always continues.









Sarah Ito

I am a novelist (GROWING UP GREENWICH, Outskirts Press), blogger and essayist, and occasional poet.


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