Half-Hour Scenes & Stories
Most days he is merely a shadow on the staircase, flickering across her path before she reaches for the rail. She takes one step at a time, pausing slightly before raising her foot again. Afraid to look up and see that he has materialized, she focuses on each cement step. She feels it solid beneath her feet and she is grounded in the pressure of her foot against its gray. She does not have to raise her head. She does not have to see his shadow as it slithers into and out of sight again.
The other commuters don’t seem to notice. They hurry up and down the stairs, taking them three at a time. They are late for work. They have a date.
If she could, she would stop talking the subway. She would walk the streets. She would ride the bus. Anything to stop seeing these shadows. But she can’t. Instead, every day she takes the same route, retreading her steps, hoping and dreading to run into this memory of him again: the one where he lets go of her hand and slides his into his pocket. He ascends the stairs and she waits beneath him, knowing this is it. Every time it is the same. Every time he is leaving. Every time she is begging him not to go.