Sunday, January 21, 2007

Stories from a Sidewalk

The man jogged down the stairs, grabbing hold of the railing at the end of each flight in order to turn the corner faster. As he passed through the gate that marked the entrance to his apartment complex, his breathing became deeper in anticipation of his daily run. It was a beautiful day outside, and he enjoyed the sun that seemed to make even the air taste fresher. He always followed the same route down 12th street to reach the neighborhood. He loved running here; there was a peacefulness to the area that made his perfectly decent apartment seem forced and overanalyzed. Despite attempts to make them more livable, those units couldn’t touch the quality of a neighborhood that grows up on its own accord. His quick pace allowed a perception of the atmosphere created by the trees and small houses, each completely different from its neighbor.

His feet pounded the sidewalk in front of the campus, each step pushing away from the ground and leaving a footprint of his vitality even though no visible mark could be seen. This sidewalk was more than a path laid out to allow movement. It was an invitation, a plea for life and habitation to give it a story that could be read by anyone passing through.

He knocked three times on his brother’s front door. It didn’t take long for him to appear. They nodded a quick greeting as he closed the door behind him and they fell in step side by side as they cut across the front lawn to the sidewalk. They had been taking these Sunday afternoon walks for two years now, pretty much since their dad had died. Sometimes they talked, sometimes they just strolled in silence, enjoying they companionship of being with someone who knows you well. They turned the corner at the end of the street and headed toward the school. It was a leisurely pace, the sort where you know which way to go and where to step without really paying attention. Their thoughts were elsewhere.

They always walked the sidewalk around the school. Shaded by trees, they could still see the clear blue sky. The sidewalk guided their direction, but they would have taken the same route had it not been there. Occasionally they veered onto the grass when it got in the way of their unconscious path. The sidewalk dictated their distance from each other; their thoughts brought them closer together.

She was antsy to go. The view from the window told her it was one of those days where you just can’t stand to stay inside. She called him with impatience from the door, and he laughed at her eagerness as they walked down the street. He didn’t have to ask her where they were going. Everyone has a favorite spot and she was no different. It was truly the nicest day in weeks; the slight chill was no match for the brilliant sun and clear sky. She tugged at his hand and they skipped for a while, younger now than when they had left the house. The few people they saw on the way to the school confirmed the laziness of the afternoon.

She pulled they towel out and begin to flap it open even before they reached the sidewalk. They both kicked their sandals off, anticipating the warmth of the concrete that had been soaking up the sun all morning. They laid down side by side, arms pressed against each other so they could both fit without touching the grass. The sky was completely uninterrupted at this spot, its blueness almost overwhelming in the midst of the city. They held hands, laughing occasionally with the lightheartedness that fit the day, warmed from above by the sun and from below by the sidewalk.


ANE said...

I like how this story starts to talk about the various uses of one object depending on the user. The sidewalk is a path for the boys, but it's more of a "memory lane" way for them to travel, rather than a physical element. I like how the users will either acknowledge it for what it is, or make it into their own.

awhong said...

One object but 2 different emotions conveyed by your blog.
I like how the first story reminisces about the past and has a more somber, sad feeling. The second is quite opposite about a couple living in the present, happy and carefree.