Saturday, 25 November 2017

Cross Street: North Shore Road

by Cesca Janece Waterfield


You're expecting repentance? Maybe you think this will be about a burden lifted, a great truth realized, cheap cigarettes and coffee in Tuesday night church basements. This is not that story.

This is about the woman who stepped outside the cab at the appointed hour, in hose that would run, on shaky skinny heels. Her lipstick had no answers. She looked up at the window and saw it already: the gaunt-limbed pack, this grant, that engagement, oh, the envy. Going up the escalator, only it ran down. The same steps over and over. (She thinks she knows it all, this woman, a wiseacre, a real stitch.)

She hated hose. Stilettos weren't her style. She figured, Why bother? When she already knew how it ends? Precisely, she answered herself. (She always answered herself.)

So she whistled to the cabbie who'd been very conveniently idling at the red light all this time.  She climbed up front and bummed a cigarette, resting her hand on his thigh. "Do you like whiskey?" she asked.

"I love whiskey," she answered herself.

She decided to call him Newman and told him to swing by her place so she could put on denim and her favorite blunt-toed leather shit-kickers. (That's boots to you girls climbing upstairs to the party.)

When she came down the steps she said, "Newman, move over. I'm driving now." She rolled down the windows and turned up Aretha. Maybe it was Joni. She smelled good. Suddenly her lipstick did have answers. In fact, it started telling dirty jokes, then opening wide like hope to laugh real hard. And loud.

She grinned and started saying things like, "my secretary," and "postgraduate," and "orgasm."

She said, "Newman, you could lose a few pounds."


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Cross Street: North Short Road was previously published in Cesca Janece Waterfield's first collection, Bartab (Two-Handed Engine Press, 2010).