Watch Your Step

Reminder—his Mom had texted earlier—since the pandemic this neighborhood’s sketchy characters, both dealers and cops, have been even sketchier. Watch your step.

But,well, there he was—Clever Trevor (his brother’s name for him since he got accepted into Columbia University last year)—face down on the ground.

He was coming up the stairs from the subway, stepped on his own shoestring and—wham! Even with the afternoon sun overhead it was like they say—lights out!

There was ringing in his ears from all the churches in the area. Everything from the real metal and clapper bong of St. Augustine’s to the pre-recorded tintinabulations played over the speakers atop Our Lady Of Perpetual Help.

People have come close, he can hear them asking if he’s okay. Doesn’t seem to have the tools to answer. They seem hesitant to touch him.

I’ve got to be there, I can’t be late — he thought, his mouth suddenly metallic tasting, wet against the fabric of the mask. Time is of the essense. They’ll be serving the cake soon and they’ll need these candles.

It was dark all around and he was quite aware that he was falling upward, away from the earth—his eyelids fluttering as he soars through the stars, cigarette butts, chewing gum and bottle caps.
I’ve planned this for days, with the whole quarantine thing, I gotta be there—my kid brother is going to be 14.

He extends his arm and pulls the chord on a parachute. He’s snapped around sharply and sent spinning—splayed out on some invisible web, holding on like a spider in a windstorm.
The sudden sensation that he’s going to be sick sends urgent messages where they need to go—he does things, and they work: he lifts his head!

Usually a crowded corner, there are only three people standing above him. It seems like so much time has gone by, but he can tell now that it has been mere seconds.
Should I call 911? You okay? You might have a concussion.

Actual words finally emerge: No need to call, thank you, I’ll be okay.

He’s leaning up against the parked car, digging in his backpack for tissues and an extra mask. People wander away, one woman a bit more slowly, looking back to see if he really was okay.

The candles survived. He checks the busted lip on his cell phone, brushes off shirt and pants, and sends a text: Just got out of subway. Be there in a couple minutes.

© AleXander Hirka 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Read RemingtonWrite’s version here:

In August 2020, I set myself the challenge of creating a daily digital collage based on an image and a concept. The image was that of the antique Omega watch that belonged to my Mom and the concept was Time.
In September 2020, the
Anomalous Duo is challenging themselves to write a short piece of fiction for each collage — the Our Hours project.

Writer, visual artist, philosopher, autodidact, curmudgeon. More than half of what i do is make believe.

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