The best of his days melt into a night of pining and he’s left with its dribble on his cold, often unwashed, palms. Tonight, I carry a notebook and a pen, of which I will make a present should I run into him again.
I like taking walks after the city has resigned into a dull rumble. I know where I am going and I know who I will see; I have made friends with the shadows and the bridge knows to wait for me before she sleeps. She lives in a distance, but there’s a terrace at the end of Vallejo, where I can rest profusely as she twinkles over the San Franciscan bay. Berkeley twinkles too, but behind the low-hanging veil of our beloved fog.
This terrace is special to us, and it is our little secret. We bring ourselves here each night, not in friendship, not in fellowship, but in understanding. Here, we lie on our backs upon the grass, for minutes that seem like hours and in silence that oozes concern.
It is 3am now. I bury myself within the folds of my woolen scarf and I set out into the night. I have a bottle of wine and two paper cups, my camera, and my gift.
Dear City, how you have changed. I no longer recognize you as the monster I know you are. I feel forgiven as I make my way past the Spanish Chestnuts, now dressed in black for the Midnight Ball. And the moon, seduced into a narrow crescent, a tiara like only the heavens can craft. Even the spirits are dancing to the chirp of the crickets, disguised as the wind in the chest of a shirt on a clothesline. I raise my glass to an empty sleeve and I walk.
I smile as the view of the bridge slowly edges into my thoughts. Instantly, I am stirred out of my stupor and I recognize the ebbing light. I see the familiar shadows upon the terrace, and I try to smile, but I find that I am already smiling. I feel a warmth absolve me as I rest upon the grass.
It is cloudy, but we are hopeful. Within each of us is the truth that we can part the clouds just by believing we can. In time, they do, and we search the skies for a lone, twinkling star. I shine my flashlight into the sky and light nothing.
“I’m god-fearing”, he says. We remain silent. I wonder if he actually lives in fear. His cigarette burns with an audible cinder. That’s how quiet it is, when the sound of a TV stabs the night.
Perhaps our silence frightens the lonely girl. Or perhaps she doesn’t know her friends stand right by her window, disguised as the night.