For most of my life, I’ve spent my evenings by the river walk of downtown Cedarsville reminiscing the past and searching for answers I doubt I’ll ever find. I park myself on the same worn-out bench standing only three feet above the ground on legs about as sturdy as an infant’s. The rain washed away its beautiful cocoa color of ninety years and left behind an ashy gray, like the face of a deceased woman– beautiful, yet useless. I often try to predict how long the poor rocker will last.
Four days and one wind storm, and I’ll be saying sayonara to the damn thing, angry it couldn’t hold out another couple hundred gambles. But I’ll pay it my respects anyhow and carry on to find a new bench deeper into the woods, farther from the river, and more isolated than ever before.
That’s the thing about immortals – we’re destined to say goodbye. We love for thirty years and then hurt for forty, and eventually, we throw our hands in the air and surrender. From there, we learn to attach ourselves only to the smaller things, like benches and bagel shops, which is where I wander on the tenth hour of every Sunday.
It sits at the heart of the city less than a quarter mile from here, but I’m in no rush. I like to take the long way passing the boutiques and barber shops, and the art studio where children file out displaying their ceramic bowls to each other, snickering and making trades. I also spot a young couple, maybe sixteen or seventeen, sitting in the gang way against an apartment building. I suppose he is flirting with her by squeezing the tops of her knees, but I can’t tell.
I try to let everyone go on about their business while I mind my own and let the earth move beneath my feet until I reach Bean et Bella. It was over seven decades ago that I first stepped into this bagel shop, and what attracted me was a petite Canadian woman. She was pulling her hair back into a banana clip as she ordered a stuffed pretzel rod with fruit punch. Under her arm was an Italian leather journal, and she spent the next fifty minutes or so decorating its pages with little portraits of the faces in the shop. I waited patiently for it to be my turn – for her to casually stare in my direction for a while.
In my head, I was imagining the scene that was about to take place.
She will take one look at me, seeing nothing but a blood-famished corpse. My fangs will trigger panic throughout her body, and she will wince, hard and ugly. She will tug at her red turtle neck sweater, drop the pen from her hand, shut her journal, and scurry out the restaurant like a squirrel crossing the road. In less than ten minutes, she will have caught a cab out to her mother’s house where she will stay for the weekend relaying stories of how I was wide-mouthed just inches from her neck. Some man named Liam Josling will become the hero, and I, just a man at a bagel shop, will become the poison of the town.
I laughed at the absurdity of it all as I glanced over to the woman finishing up her last sip of fruit punch.
And I braced myself as she, too, peered in my direction. To my surprise, she didn’t wince or scurry. Instead, she released a giggle and lifted the portrait for me to see, pointing with her finger at the fangs in which she wrote, “totally cool,” next to them.
“Name’s Mona,” she beamed, unfolding her legs from Indian position. “Mind if I take a seat?”
-- Melissa Carrington is currently a student at Lewis University working towards her Bachelor of Arts. Although this is her first time being published, she plans on making the necessary leaps towards becoming an emerging writer.