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The Playground
prose [ ]

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by [AdnanaPatri ]

2008-09-27  |     | 



Chloe knew she had to get out of the house. She sat all day with her headphones on, the world locked outside. Since she had come here, she didn’t get out much. „What’s the use?“ she thought, with the half bag of tortilla chips still in her stomach and on her mind. This little walk seemed like blinking-twice for a coma patient.

It began to rain. The drops were falling so slowly, that someone must have been holding the clock arms to keep them from spinning time. The dust rose and covered in mist the world below her knees. „It must be a disaster for the ants“ she thought. She sat down in a chair on the porch and waited. Max had asked her to mail an envelope, so she didn’t want to get it all wet. She didn’t watch the rain, only its shadow on the ground. Has anyone ever seen something crush into its own shadow?

The rain ceased. She walked with the envelope in one hand. In the other, she held a plum between the thumb and index finger. She hesitated. She needed the fix, she had to do it. So she pressed hard. The plum flesh ripped open in a fresh wound. She breathed the smell of tree sap and sun dust. A blue old house appeared in the middle of the street, with geranium pots in the windows. The wrought iron gate opened and a brown dog came out and jumped in her arms. She laughed. An old woman, with her hair pulled under a scarf, told her “Come on inside, I have some fresh plum jam, just like you like it.“

It started raining again. She hurried inside the coffee shop downtown. There was a girl working at the counter whose name she didn’t know. „A regular coffee, please. For here“. The no name girl asked if she wanted room for cream. She was so thankful because she always forgot to ask for „room for cream“. She sat down at a dark, wooden table by the window, took her notebook out and started to write.
„Today I remember what is missing from life. It’s not the missing thing that hurts, but the thought of it.“
From the speakers, „All you need is love“ played lyricless on instrumets of an orchestra. Chloe drank her coffee in big gulps. She would have gotten a refill, but left instead. Would the girl who served her be hurt if she knew that someone in her presence left without knowing her name?

She took a detour back to the house, watching herself in the mirror-windows of law offices. The strong smell of bat guans came from beneath their roofs. The streets were empty. Just her and her reflection. No one walked here. Every one belonged to another world, one she couldn’t see.

She passed by the red brick baptist church, then took a right on Commerce Street. The old theatre house laid on the other side. The walls were desolate, like old actors with their make-up run down. At the intersection of Weeler Street stood a lutheran church. She went near the memorial plaque. „Founded in 1892“. She read the few german names and looked up. The steeple went straight to the clouds. Some churches are horisontal and some are vertical, like this one. The early afternoon sun blurred the shapes on the narrow stain-glass window. She went down the street. A white, humble Mary sat outside „Our Lady of Lourdes.“ She climbed the steep staircase to the big rounded doors and tried the lever. The doors were locked. She peeked through the square glass in the door, but the church was dark and silent. She sat down.

Across the street, the black tire swings moved back and forth in the soft wind. She tried the playgound gate. Closed. She took her shoes off, jumped the little wrought iron fence and walked on the unmowed grass. She leaned backwards on a swing, looking at the church tower upside down. She had faith once, stronger in high school, waning in college. Now, she didn’t know. This strange new place froze her heart. So many churches and each so different. She remembered the little one down the road from her home, where she first believed. She went on swinging, with her legs in the air, touching the grass with her hair.

An old woman, with her hair pulled under a scarf, opened the playground gate. She took her shoes off, walked on the long grass and sat on a swing.
„Tell me“ said Chloe, „what is God like?“
„God“ the old woman answered, „is like me.“

It came to her that she had forgot to go by the post office. Oh well, she would make up some excuse: today the post office didn’t accept yellow envelopes.






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