My cellphone says it’s 9:00PM as I’m crossing Broadway and 17th. I see her staring up into the sky, January’s snowflakes landing and melting on her forehead, and she sips from a Starbucks cup. I’m entirely infatuated with this person that I don’t even know.
She’s doing a whole lot of nothing and I’m so distracted by all of it. Her wavy hair, dyed sea-foam green, stealing my attention. The way her Smiths t-shirt is ever so faded, making me wonder if she got it at a thrift store or an Urban Outfitters, takes my focus away from the road. Her skin tight black Levi’s make it so that I don’t see the cab with the driver who doesn’t see me.
I’m watching the tattoo on her left forearm, the owl perched in the hollow tree, as a man reaches out for me, yelling at me to watch where I’m going. Her pair of purple Vans sneakers are the only things I see as the man’s arms are keeping me from walking straight into the oncoming car.
I blush as the cab’s tires screech on the pavement and I see the girl look over at me, her gray eyes glistening in the moonlight. Her eyes take my breath away as I’m filled with embarrassment and adrenaline.
And she laughs. She chuckles and I can’t help but realize that this is who I’ll always be: the guy who constantly falls for the next girl who captures his attention. This all felt like July.
The sign read “Psychic Readings By Lisa - Special,” but failed to mention what the special was. I remember passing it on 31st between Seventh and Eighth and feeling so empty. So lost and confused. Dazed. I remember seeing that sign with its vinyl sticker faded, torn and peeling away from the water damaged wood and thinking this is what decay feels like.
I stood there, motionless and silently examining the sign. Observing the tiny five by five nook of a room. The small round table upon which a brass candelabra sat, wax melting onto the white lace table cloth. I remember the woman who sat at the far end of the table, behind the dusty crystal ball, sending text messages with a complete disregard for her profession. The dim blue light of the device highlighting every feature of her face.
Her green eyes peered up from her phone, her lips formed a crooked sneer as she waved me over. I’ve always been so easy to charm.
“Your future,” is all she said, completely nonchalant and lackluster, watching as I sat down across from her yet I could still feel my heart beat against my chest, trying to break through my ribcage and flesh.
Her complete lack of enthusiasm was endearing.
“Yeah,” I said, reaching my right hand across the table, palm up, repeating what I’ve only ever seen in movies.
She grabbed my wrist and traced all the wrinkles on my palm with her left index finger, concentrating the way kids in school plays concentrate. The way her fingers felt like icicles melting in the early days of spring covered my skin in goosebumps.
So lost and confused. Dazed. Empty.
“I see love and fortune in your immediate future. I see children, two boys and one girl and a house with a porch in, uh,” a beat, “Connecticut or Pennsylvania or New Jersey. The suburbs.”
She handed my wrist back; the warm, humid July air thawing it out, and she told me that she accepts all major credit cards. I wanted to ask her out for drinks, she was quick to ask for my wallet.
“My future,” I didn’t even believe in it myself anymore.
“Yeah, wouldn’t that be nice?” She laughed, handing me my card back.
Walking out of the nook, I turned on my heel and looked straight into her green eyes, highlighted by the dim blue light of her cellphone, and asked, “what’s the special, anyways?”
“Oh,” she chuckled, exhaling a thick cloud of smoke. “The sign’s just a way to grab attention from people walking by.”
Now I stand here, a moment after almost getting hit by a cab with another momentary girl of my dreams laughing at me and I can’t help but realize that I’ll always be alone. I’ll fall for every woman I meet, I’ll fall for every con. I’ll always feel lost and confused. Dazed. Empty.
This is what decay feels like.