Posted on February 21, 2014 by Patricia Ann McNair2.21.2014 Journal Prompt Image from Mad Men February 21, 2014: She loved the city. Share this:ShareClick to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... Related
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She loves the city. Any city. She loves the idea of being lost and then easily found.
She recalls a time in Paris when she was small enough she could walk under tables without needing to dip her head. Her mother was with her and then she was not. And she kept walking, her head tilted to the sky and seeing all the windows of the buildings and sunlight flashing on the glass and birds high as clouds should be and flags flying.
And she was briefly lost and then found. A man with a peaked cap and a stick tucked into his belt and he wore white gloves and he spoke in music rather than words. And she was taken to the police station where they sat her on the counter, like she was a trophy they’d won. And they made much of her, feeding her broken bits of cake and giving her hot chocolate to drink from a cup that needed two hands to hold, till her mother came to collect her.
It’s the same now. She takes the train into the city, right to the very centre. Then she climbs the stairs into crowds and is quickly lost. Like that she can be anyone and no one and she can be the child that she once was. And she smiles, sends her smile out into the world.
Her father used to keep pigeons in a loft and every morning he’d open all the doors to their homes and their wings would beat the stiff air and the pigeons would draw wide arcing circles in the sky, always returning at last, back to the loft where they belonged. And she thinks of her smile like one of those rainbow-winged birds, and she lets it out into the hopeful city sky and it always comes back to her.
And she can be found at any time – which I suppose means she’s never really lost. There’s a man sitting in an apartment up on Lafayette and he’s watching the clock and he knows she will be late, but he knows she will come and so he is waiting. He has a bottle of wine chilling, something fresh and green and clean, and he has changed the sheets on his bed and he smells of soap and aftershave and his breath smells of mint.
She has a key to the apartment where he waits and she lets herself in. She tells him not to shut the curtains, tells him instead to throw all the windows wide; and, lying in his bed, the sheets thrown back and the sun stroking her skin and he is fucking her from behind and her breath comes quick and short, and it is a little like flying, she thinks. And it is then that she recalls being lost as a child and the birds high as clouds and flags flapping and the windows of tall buildings flashing gold and a man in a peaked cap smiling and holding her hand in his white glove and taking her with him. And it is like returning to the place where she started, which is like going home.
Her mother and father lie under the black earth, a single stone for a pillow and flowers at their breasts. She misses them sometimes and so she phones a man in the city and she says she’ll be there the next day and she books a ticket for the train and tells her boss she won’t be in for work and he nods and he says he understands even though he can’t possibly.