by Bianca Riddle
I make it here before her. At dusk. There’s a haze of yellow just above the tree line in the distance.
If you’ve watched her long enough you’ve picked up on her habits, if you’ve followed her pattern. We’re both creatures of habit; she has her routine and I have her. Adeline will jog for about four laps and walk two. She’ll pass me six times tonight. She’ll come in the park carrying two water bottles. She’ll walk the whole length of the park once, dropping off her water bottles in the grass, behind the benches towards the two entrances of the park. I’ve thought about how easy it would be to slip something in her water. But I won’t. I sit at the eastward entrance on the bench farthest from where she’ll drop off her water. I don’t want to startle her.
I sit on the bench, finishing off half a sleeve of crackers before she comes round.
My chest twists in knots when I finally see her. Tight grey capris, bright yellow jacket. Sleeves bunched up. Her curly red hair in a ponytail. Freckles crawling up her arms. She’s listening to Roxanne. She’s a huge Police fan. She sets her bottle down. I take advantage of her being distracted. I wave, she mimics without hesitation, and when I’m out of her peripheral I wipe my sweaty palms on my jacket before pulling out my Canon Powershot. The first few photos are out of focus; of her shoes, socks, and the backs of her calves. Practice shots. Accidental. But the frame crawls up her back and I get pictures of her long spindly hair.
The palm of my hand itches when she jogs by the bench. Pinned hair swaying back and forth, swiping over the shoulders of her soft eece jacket. She doesn’t see the camera. She doesn’t stop for a drink of her water. She smiles at me though. She ashes that beautiful smile at every stranger. She’s an angel. I confess my love to her from my place on the bench; loud enough for her to hear if she weren’t listening to music.
I can’t explain what it is that puts these thoughts in my head. Where it stems from. It could simply be that Adeline is a beautiful woman. Those doe-y blue eyes. …I want to feel her breathing next to me. I don’t intend to harm her. I just want her next to me. I can hear her humming before she passes me for the third time. I lower my camera again. This lap it’s Barenaked Ladies. Next it will be techno electronica or Coldplay. She dashes past me. “I love you Adeline Phisher.” I repeat loudly.
I love you.
I LOVE YOU.
She stops, one water bottle in hand. She’s on her cool down lap. This is my opportunity. I don’t feel the cold air. Adrenaline is fizzing underneath my skin. I stand up and grab the tennis racquet from the dirt ground underneath my seat.
She stands after tying her shoe, both bottles in her arm, and I crack her against the temple with the old racquet. I found it in the garage. I brought it for this moment. This memory. She takes a nasty fall. I take my place beside her on
Once she opens her eyes I look into them. I can see the starry sky mirroring
in the corners of them. I lean in and brush my knuckles against her cheek. She withers away from me. “I won’t hurt you Adeline.”
I must’ve rattled her good. Blood’s pouring from her head and back into her hair. I didn’t mean to hit her hard. I reach out my hand and press my palm to her collar bones. She’s still breathing. It’s tiny.
I look back up at the stars. “I’m glad I could spend time with you.” I confess. We lie there on the warm orange pebbled sidewalk. She’s closed her eyes. Her hair smells as nice as I thought it would. Like cinnamon. Ginger. The Dave Matthews Band is playing loudly from her headset. I know the kind of music she likes.
I snap a photo of us. Together. Nothings more important than this moment with her.
These fickle fuddle words confuse me Like ‘will it rain today?’
Waste the hours with talking, talking These twisted games we’re playing This is all I wanted.
We’re strange allies With warring hearts –
All I’ve wanted.