Prelude Op. 02 no. 21 - Second Draft

On the windowsill of a hotel room overlooking Spring Street, she sat, with a blanket on her lap for warmth and a half-lit cigarette resting on the ledge like a swimmer on the edge of a diving board, its embers burning a little too quickly—she’d been in a hurry to light it and held the flame too long, not to mention the wind—her white knuckles splotched with pink from gripping the ledge too tightly, nails chipped on several of her fingers, sitting with no shoes on, looking or scanning, rather, hoping for some kind of sign, a spiritual cue card with big block lettering telling her to jump or go back inside to think things over a bit longer, just once more until she was absolutely certain this was what she wanted despite, in the last few months, numerous close-calls at traffic intersections and subway stops; not to mention in the kitchen, at home, next to the knife block; her heart threatening to beat through her chest as stray hair blew wildly in her face, which made everything flicker as if she were constantly blinking, continuously staring at the street lights and apartment windows on buildings erect in skyline competition, observing private lives through public windows, or just tracing shadows if the curtains were drawn—a behind the scenes look at everyday life—beginning to cry softly, her tears falling down to the sidewalk where pedestrians mistook them for a leaky AC unit or damaged drain pipe, some tears pooling in her lap’s blanket that she had taken from the room’s linen closet, made of fleece or imitation fleece or some other synthetic material that was itchy and beige, her legs crossed underneath the blanket and left ankle moving in tiny circles as she shifted her weight slowly forward—the cigarette having been blown off the edge at this point, its descent cutting through the air like a slalom, landing in the hedges outside the hotel’s main entrance—still carefully balancing to keep from slipping prematurely with palms still clamped to the ledge as the phone began ringing; weeping—refusing to turn her head in acknowledgement—as she tossed the blanket inside almost causing her to slip, the blanket landing softly on the carpet near the hotel bed, just in front of room 20’s television which was broadcasting an old episode of Jeopardy; still seated or perhaps more accurately, perched on the fenestral precipice, now blanket-less and uncovered, slowly turning toward the ringing that was surely just the clinic, or her husband, or therapist, or her mother; just another inadvertent reminder of a once joint triumph turned solitary defeat, and still weeping as she felt where her bump had been, now just a smooth reminder of a precious loss, listening as Alex T***** shouted excitedly between the telephone’s chimes, feeling less and less afraid now as she edged closer and closer forward, her feet touching the brick of the hotel’s facade just below the windowsill, looking down at people looking up at her, when the ringing finally stopped.

Originally published in Monkeybicycle: One Sentence Stories as “Prelude Op. 02 No. 21”