Short Stories

“After Awhile, Crocodile”

Awoken by outside traffic, I rose to find my head rested on the window.

 “You okay?” A woman said. 

Standing over me, was her face. Although, I couldn’t see who it was, I felt it was Marie. Her face had been obscured by the tiredness of my slumber. Despite being blurred, I can somewhat make out what stood before me as my vision began to return. Her long, dark hair hung low, caressed my face. Curved lips that resembled a kind smile. Her silhouette stuck out faint ringlets that couldn’t have been mistaken her for anyone else. It was all too familiar and it was the one I’d grown to love. 

“Of course” I said while getting up. Coming closer towards me, Marie reaches her hands to my face. She wiped her thumbs across both my eyes. 

“Why are you crying?” she said while drying away my tears. 

 “Huh?” I honestly hadn’t noticed. “I think I must’ve slept too good or somethin” I added. “Must’ve. ‘Could tell it was a pretty good nap then,” she said.

Sleeping close to the window wouldn’t seem like an optimal place for a nap, but for whatever reason I was able to get what felt like a night’s worth there. A big, warm fleece blanket accompanied by a tranquil view of the city below. I couldn’t help but feel it was an appropriate setting. Oftentimes I’d read there to clear my mind. Especially on days when the sun hung so brightly in the sky. Wisps of clouds surfing in the big open blue and glares that painted the room with rainbows. There was nothing like it. What’s not to love about the sight of that?

“You should join me Marie, it’s comfortable,” I said while pointing to the opposite end of 

where I sat.

“Over there?” she said.

“Yes…at least for a little bit, if you don’t mind of course” I said.

“I don’t,” she said. 

I gave a part of the blanket over to her, enough for the both of us to share. Truth be told I was struggling to part with it. Maybe I’d simply gotten a bit too comfortable. 

“I’m gonna miss this” I said

“What, the blanket?” she said, seemingly peering into my soul. There was sudden difficulty in what words to choose, strickening my train of thought.

 “No, just. All of this ya know?” I said, uncertain if she got my drift.

“A part of me will too, but…,” she said. It was clear Marie couldn’t finish her thought. Though I’d gotten the cue of what the end of that suggested. Ending a sentence with ‘but’ didn’t seem all that welcoming, especially followed by some optimistic sentiment. Couldn’t have meant a good thing either, at least not in my mind. 

Before Marie could finish her thought, I interjected “You like?”

“Mhm, it’s peaceful. I can see why you sit here” she said.

“Yeah, it’s nice,” I added.

There were streaks of light that hit me in the face. Some which shone on the walls and various corners of the room. A bit blinded by the light, I could’ve recognized it from anywhere. It was the many rings Marie wore. Sitting across from her, I’d noticed she was hiding her face with her hands. For a brief moment the sun brought emphasis to the bags underneath to what appeared to be her reddened eyes. I guessed she’d done her fair share of shedding tears, but for a different reason perhaps. 

“Are you okay?,” I asked. 

“I’d like to think so,” she said, letting out a slight chuckle.

“Well, do you want to talk about it?” I asked.

“Not really, I think it may be best not to,” she suggested. I assumed it was too overwhelming. I understood the need of silence in a time like this; it was necessary.  

Knowing it may be awhile till then, I wanted to make the best out of it. I wasn’t going to force her. Our eyes would occasionally meet halfway, but for no more than a few seconds. Most of the gazes were in favor of the window. She seemed taken back by it all, captivated by life on the other side. Though she made a few glances over at her wrist.

 “Listen, I called a taxi not too long ago,” she said. “It should be here soon, ‘called it a few minutes ago actually”

“Oh, I see,” I hesitated. 

 Not sure how I was supposed to respond to that. Had I not woken up sooner, I imagined the conversation would have never happened and Marie would have simply disappeared. All without a trace. I’d chosen to not let it faze me, for I had no intention in ruining this place of what would then become a distant memory. I feared uttering any ounce of a reaction would spoil the moment. Didn’t feel like it was my place to ask anymore, with all things considering. Sure she had her reasons.

“We tried, but it is what it is,” she said. 

“I suppose we did, right?” I supposed.

“Though, I wish you the best with everything”

“Likewise, the same goes for you and more” I added. I’d always wished the best, no matter how things turned out. The air surrounding us had been scented with a fragrance I couldn’t name, but the aroma carried a bittersweet feeling to it. 

“What’s that smell?” I wondered. 

“Cinnamon Spiced Vanilla” she said. 

“Of course, sometimes it’s hard to tell with these things,” I said.

“You never got things immediately”

 “I guess that’s true, either way I like it,” I added. It must’ve been obvious that I was

making an [poor] attempt at trying for further conversation, even if it were mundane. 

Before I knew it, a taxi pulled up on the street below. Immediately, we turned to each other, just knowing. It was time to get up from the window and see her on the way out. I began folding the blanket for one final time. 

“This is yours,” I said while holding out the blanket towards her. 

“You can keep it if you’d like,” she said. 

“Honestly, I think it may be best if it stayed with you,” I insisted. “I don’t think I am able, it’d just be a poor reminder”

“Then the feeling’s mutual, I’ll keep it somewhere safe,” she said, grabbing it from me, tucking it under her arm.

“From here on out, please take care of yourself” 

“Yeah, same to you” Marie said. “See you later, alligator”

“After awhile, crocodile” 

As I watched Marie shut the door behind her…