The sky and the Liffey were steel grey that day and I shivered standing in the centre of the bridge, looking east with the wind shoving me from the back, trying to decide, well, not really what to do but what I thought about doing it. The busses, lorries, and flow of cars roared past along the quaysides and tourists made exclamations of wonder as they passed, and once in a few minutes a cloud would spit a bit of rain down, perhaps just to remind me that nature held most of the power.
She was up at Arnott's shopping for, well whatever. She loves the stores on Grafton Street and often pulls me through them – no, "pulls" is too strong and suggests unwillingness – I view top-level retail as some sort of great kinetic art show and do not mind at all. But when she settles into real purchasing modes she is more likely to work the lower price north side and to do it with great efficiency, and I am not much of a shopper in that way. So she went there and I went here. Claiming to need to check something at Books Upstairs by Trinity but not doing that at all, simply following a random path from College Green through Temple Bar and onto the Ha'penny, bringing me to this spot.
We'd agreed to meet at The Oval Bar at two-fifteen or half-past for sandwiches and pints and so we'd ride the bus back home together, and that we would. We'd talk about things as we do. We'd smile at each other and laugh and kiss and she'd kick her shoes off and put them in my lap and I'd massage them with my right hand as I drank with my left. This would all go on no matter what I decided, and it would all be good.
Did I want more or did she? Did I want her to move in, to be mine in "that way," or was I resisting, setting up reasons why not? Did she want what she always told her friends she would not do again, or was what she oft said the real thing? Were her jokes about me a defense mechanism for her or against me? Could something without a future go on and on forever? Or were we dooming ourselves to disappointment?
It seemed early in the autumn for the wind to be this raw. I pulled the phone from my pocket and checked the hour. Three ducks swam beneath me, all males, a pack on the prowl I suggested to myself. Behind me an American man said, "I totally love this city," which is always nice to hear.
I pushed myself off the railing. Turned to my left. Walked towards her.________________________
copyright 2006 by Ira Socol