176

Rue Coquilliere

Wayne Wolfson By

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For Sybille

I had let the water in the tub run dangerously high. Almost up to the lip, where it threatened to soak the Balzac I had balancing on the corner.

I would have to move, slowly, not make even a ripple, but for now I could not be bothered. In a few minutes the news would end and inbetween spitting out static, the jazz program would begin.

I had accompanied her to the cooking supply store. A labyrinth of shelving reaching up to the vaulted ceiling, their middles buckling under the weight of pots and pans. Considering what all the accoutrements would eventually be used for, the store was surprisingly lacking in scent, only faintly of dust, coming from those shelves too high and dangerous to be cleaned regularly.

She found what she wanted and I volunteered to carry the bag, not realizing how heavy it was, nor suspecting that, that had most likely been her plan all along, She wanted to spend a little more time. I would have liked to go for drinks, but was doing that later, before settling down for a night of bleeding my pen of ink. We went for tea. As payback for making me observe moderation, I asked her how her son was. She briefly frowned as if biting into that last piece of fruit and finding it bad.

Before she could answer, the waiter returned with the tea. Awkward silence while we waited for it to cool, yet I know I had not gone too far. I bent down and lifted her bag, putting it on the then empty third chair.

She dropped a sugar cube in, I noticed she held it just above the surface first, letting the dark stain spread right up until it came in contact with her flesh. She tapped the bag with the same fingers.

"I carry my home with me, always in my cooking, in my music... Something about the color of her eyes, or maybe the way the light dimly reflected upon her tears when viewed at a certain angle.

Ah, I will take you back to Berlin, with its skies the color of the inside of a mussel's shell, all fragile gray.

Somewhere music is playing. We make messes of our lives, but somehow it never seems as bad, being our own creation.

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