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Città Antica - Anisah Caicedo Saleh.jpg

Città Antica by Anisah Caicedo-Saleh from Vantage

Late Night Walk

The night was calling to me in all her fullness and minor key. She didn’t have anything to say to me at the party, so I had no reason to stick around and listen to anyone else, even though they were my friends. Tried and true. I laid in bed. I would say my room is cozy, a small bird’s nest perched under an eave, overlooking the street. I looked out at the empty street, the lights displaying potholes in the road. The party was probably still going on. I could return. It was just down the street. I looked forward to parties; it was going to them that was a drag. None ever lived up to the expectation. Expectation was like a full balloon, yet to be punctured. My life is probably more fantasy than I like to admit. This is probably the most honest and realistic thought I have had in months. Maybe ever. Crazily, it was the reality of the frigid night that hit me while I was walking home from the party, that captured my soul. It had called to me, to go back outside and leave my room. I began to realize that I didn’t need to talk to her, I just needed to walk in the night. Everyone in my house was sleeping when I quietly slipped out of bed and out the front door.

I turned around on the sidewalk in front of the house and looked back. I couldn’t believe I was actually outside. I mean you always think you’re going to do stuff like that, but you never do it. I walked along thinking not of how she didn’t even talk to me, because she did, but of how she talked to me like she talked to everybody else. I passed by a brick path that passed between two houses connecting two blocks. I backed up a few steps and looked down the path. I thought of walking down it as a kid with my mom in springtime, with wild flowers scattered between the bricks and two fences that ran the length of the pathway. We called it the secret passage. I started down it for nostalgia’s sake. A dog woke, and started barking. Maybe he didn’t wake, I don’t know, but he started barking. I didn’t know why he was out this late in the cold. Startled, I hurried my pace. At the far end of the pathway I suddenly saw my elementary school. The sodium lights from the roof spliced the dark shadows cast by the building. I walked around to the back of the school and down the steep hill where we still sled in the winter. The hillside was uneven from where they cut down all the trees a dozen years ago, and there were still roots sticking up and I kept stumbling and feeling foolish as if everyone was watching me when there was really no one at all. The playground at the bottom of the hill, where I had played every recess for six years, had some new equipment. This annoyed me--that they would change what I used to play on. I walked over to the slide and laid on it. It was cold but actually for some reason I was pretty comfortable. I took out my phone and started playing “The Only Living Boy in New York.” It echoed around me, the sound flowing in the quiet winter air. I looked up at the moon as it washed the playground and hillside in white light. I thought again of how she didn’t really talk to me. It was like we had lost our spark. Things can happen and then they’re gone, and I wanted to tell myself it was over, but I was still holding on to the times we had. I thought about having a good talk with myself, but it was hard to find the thread to follow this late at night, when it was this cold, and I was tired and being clothed in moonlight. Then I heard young people laughing in the distance, beyond the trees.

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