Golden

Day Twelve of Thirty Days of Writing

Photo by Kat Fossell

There are days when everything gleams golden. This knowledge began spreading through my body as I walked through the alleyway. I’d been drawn to it when a momentary pause struck me. With one foot in the air, I hovered. To continue down the unknown street, or to circle back, using the alleyway?

I was early to an appointment to get my nails done. I was supposed to meet a woman, a friend of one of my friends. He thought we’d hit it off and so he arranged the whole thing. I was walking around, trying to figure out the meaning behind the tarot card reading I’d just received. The king of cups is two-faced. I thought. It is not I who is confused. Although so often, it is.

It was a strange day. One where a door closes and a hundred windows fly open and the drafts are cold and you think to yourself, I should really shut these windows. A day when it’s hard to concentrate. The bright colors of surprise flowers caught my eyes immediately upon choosing the alleyway path. There were only a few surviving the heat which had been pounding down on us for weeks. The first two I spotted were pink and looked like cups. Only two. Just two little pink cups sitting next to one another. One had a little bug crawling around inside it. The other was more darkly colored than his brother. Both were fully opened, and looked as though they were waiting to be filled. I blew an exhale into each, more gently on the one with the bug so as not to disturb his wanderings. I pulled back and smiled. They wobbled ever so slightly.

I am not usually found of flowers. In particular, I dislike their pollen which makes me sneeze. I am also not found of being given flowers, because in my experience, it usually means someone has done something wrong.

You need to do something that you know how to do, but that you don’t do very often. You don’t know how to do it in practice. I had furrowed my brow after that statement. I’d been looking straight at the queen of swords.

I’d immediately thought, I don’t know how to let myself just enjoy things. It’s why I never get a manicure. I work with my hands so much. The delicate paint will chip off so quickly. It seems like a waste.

Leaving the flowers, I walked back around to the front of the little shop. My friend came in with roses for his friend and I. Literally every woman (and the one man) in the little shop turned their head to look at me, a silly girl being given a red rose with baby’s breath all around it. It felt like a sacred gesture. Had the flowers in the alley prepared me for this gift? My friend winked at me and walked out. I could hear each of the others whispering. I just sat, looking at my rose. It had been a long time since someone had given me a flower, for no reason at all. Why did I feel as though I didn’t deserve it? I pondered this while waiting for the woman.

When she walked in, I could tell she’d had a hectic day. She had little tornadoes around her temples. When I looked into her eyes, I was surprised to find the same dark, unflinching pools staring back at me. There was something so familiar about her eyes.

We talked about the difficulties of teaching, the unpredictable pay, and the subtleness needed to bring opposing personalities together in discussion. Two other women laughed at us while they massaging our legs. I said, “I’m not sure some days that anyone remembers that an argument is supposed to be about finding a solution to a problem.” She said, “It is about coming to a place of common ground.” I wanted to jump up out of my seat and hug her. I didn’t, because it would have involved kicking over the little tub of hot water my toes were being cooked in.

We discussed moving to places where you were suddenly the minority. We discussed buying land, and the exploding prices of living around our country. Everything else around us faded away and for a few minutes, there was the space that I’ve read so much about but so hardly ever lived in. A space where harmony is the goal, and where it can so easily be achieved.

We parted ways quickly. There was still much to be done with the remaining hours of the day. “If you ever want to talk about North Carolina…” She said over her shoulder. “Of course!” I replied.

I drove humming along to the blues. At the Walgreens, the woman at the cash register helped me save money on toilet paper and we had a good laugh. At the 7/11, an old man in front of me bought a pack of Winston lights, and three American Honey shooters. I laughed and thought of Yuni. There was something immediately endearing about the old man, with white hair and a white beard, and those square-rimmed glasses that always make me think of scientists. I wonder where he’s going home to? Does he live alone? Will he drink each of those slowly, like I used to, while smoking on the front porch?

Just after having had this thought, the man turned to me. “You are beautiful.” I blushed. “I’m an old man, but I just had to say it. My name’s Bobby. What’s yours?” I shook his outstretched hand and told him. I was still blushing when the boy behind the counter looked me dead in the eyes and said, “You always remind me of my sister.”

“Where is your sister?” I asked, because the way he had said it implied that he did not often get to see his sister.

“I am from Mongolia. She is there. It is your face. You have the same face.”

“Thank you. Have a good night.” We smiled at one another, big goofy grins. I thought of my own sister. I felt slightly ashamed for buying beer and cigarettes.

As I completed my drive home, every face looked like someone I knew. Like I’d known each person before. The rose in my passenger seat was infusing the car with its sickly sweet smell.

There have been so many of these days. There have been so many times when I was given the keys to the city, and I just put them down on the counter and continued with my day, shutting all the windows I found open. I’ve done this before. I’ve done this so many times before.

When I got home, I carried inside all the things I’d retrieved. He was sitting out on the back porch. I didn’t run in and hug him and yell, you’re the king you fool- you’re the king!

I put my keys on the counter and I continued to unpack the plastic bags, putting each thing in its place. I closed the kitchen door so the smoke wouldn’t waft inside.