By Rebecca Gomez Farrell
Corena sits on a bench in a field of marigolds and cement. She sits and watches the people walk past her in the same direction, which is away. They tread on the endless sidewalks lying between the rows of marigold planter boxes. Their expressions are serene as they stare ahead, wearing shapeless clothes the color of corn silk. Some of the people turn and look at her; they turn their heads but don’t stop walking. Most continue onward, focused on the path that is the future. Corena sits. She records the sky’s markings in her notebook. There are many clouds, dark and light grays swirled together like mixing paint. They give her comfort, though the wind is strong today. She fears the time is near, but she hopes the clouds will stay.
Corena sits, wishing she could join the people, that she could slip into the flow causing none to lose their step. She could do that. She is not rooted to this bench; her feet have not melded into the sidewalk like she were some form of statuary titled “Girl in Skirt.” She sits, because if she moves, someone will notice and that someone will be him. He will turn, hear the sound of her movement, soft like a succubus’s murmurings, and stop walking. If he notices her, if he stops and comes to her, then the world will shatter and crash down around them two, on the bench, talking. Corena has never seen him, but she knows this will happen.
She has always known it, even when her world was no larger than the russet-skinned arm of her mother stretching down to her from the sleeve of her corn silk blouse. They walked together in the crowd, she and her mother, and Corena was of them. But she had known her future even then, known it like a sharp ache beneath her breastbone. She was not meant to walk among the people. One day, her mother’s grip loosened, and Corena’s hand fell, her pace falling with it. Her mother turned her head to look back, her red-brown hair flowing in the breeze like seaweed in the ocean, and she smiled at Corena but kept walking. The tide of the people carried her with them, and Corena moved to the sidewalk’s edge, alone.
Corena cries now on the bench as she remembers, and the sky brightens. The sun warms her with its intensity. She’s surprised that the ache still hurts so sharply. She cries release. She cries change. She curls up on the bench, her notebook falling to the cement. Corena, crying, is more brilliant than the sun that breaks through the clouds and sparkles on the concrete sea.
Corena cries, and he hears her.
He turns and gapes at this woman on a bench. He has never noticed a bench in this cement field, never noticed, really, a woman. She wears a skirt of darkness, the same color as her long hair that almost touches the sidewalk. There is a glow about her, an aura that the sun’s rays bounce off, shimmering gold. He listens to the sound of her cries, like the tinkling of silverware against champagne flutes, and he stops walking. Then he moves again, but sideways, against the flow of the people. Something glints off his shoulder and sparkles as it falls. He doesn’t notice.
By the time she sees him coming through her tears, it is too late—the clouds are gone. The sky is brilliant blue, a giant, cracking, sapphire encasement. She screams as shards of glass fall like rain from the scryer’s ball that is the sky. She screams, “Take cover!” but no one does, not even he who has heard her. The people continue, stumbling as the crystals strike them. They rise from the concrete and walk faster. Some do not rise at all, but their eyes gaze in the same direction they wish they could follow.
She watches him come. His face is alight with the reflection of something dazzling, something she has never seen but always been. She thinks he looks amazing as he draws up close beside her. Her crying ceases. He bends down and plucks a marigold. He holds the flower out to Corena sitting alone on the bench, and he grins widely, sheepishly. The sky continues to shatter around the onward-pressing people, yet she sees nothing else but his smile. She mirrors it with her own and takes the flower from his outstretched hand. She opens her mouth and says, “Hello.” And he says, “I see you, Corena.”
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Rebecca Gomez Farrell is a writer and editor with a bad case of wanderlust. She presently resides in Durham, NC, where her husband has shackled her with a mortgage. While she works on jimmying the lock, she writes food and drink reviews, short stories of all genres, a fantasy novel, and a weekly column on General Hospital. She’s been published at WOW! Women on Writing, Flashes in the Dark, and in the upcoming fifth issue of Bull Spec, due in April 2011. Her debut romance novelette, Maya’s Vacation, is being released by Astraea Press in March 2011.
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