December 15, 2012 by The Citron Review
The lights are shrouded by fog that collects near water this time of year, and they, the lights, lead me along the river, the river that cuts us all in half. My coat is dusty, and I hardly ever shave out here on the road. Sun surprises me, kills the fog in one blow, arriving all at once like an atomic bomb and throws my shadow farther than I can see it, makes me look like some kind of monster. People stay wide of me, flinch when I get too close, but not her, suddenly there like magic, like the sun this morning or the snap of fingers next to my ear. She’s out running, blowing smoke out of her mouth like a train. She’s half of me and goes right by me, our coats brushing against one another. She don’t move one inch for me, her fists clenched, long hair in chaos without those rubber band things most girls use and a mouth set hard like concrete, ready to give me hell if I make one wrong move. I’m scared of her a little bit. It looks like she’s trying to kill something out here, by herself, in the bitter cold of morning.
This girl must be Mexican, this girl in a fist fight with some ATM machine up where the levy climbs into downtown. She keeps putting that card in and it keeps saying no. Her car idles in the shade of trees and her little girls stare out at her like they all live in a submarine. Her face twists like she’s never gonna win.
Sun feels good on ice cold skin. Some skinny girl climbs out of a hole and stands there with her eyes closed. This girl’s got a small jacket around her with a tiger on it. She needs a big coat like mine, and a wool hat and to be inside at night. This girl needs a lot of things. She don’t see me though. She’s standing in that sunshine like it saved her life, came out just in time. Takes me a long while to pass her, her like a statue, but her pink fingers shivering like she’s being electrocuted. Her face is like stone, and with a stain of misery that runs down the middle of it like an earthquake scar.
Nicolas Poynter is a high-school dropout that became a chemist and now teaches AP physics in Oklahoma. He is also pursuing his MFA in creative writing at Oklahoma City University. His work has recently appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of North American Review.