The boys gather in the lobby of the rec center, one after the other striding out of the locker room. Blood warms their cheeks. Hair crazed by pool water sticks up in the back. They are swagger and ease. A mother in her track suit has brought pastries and Sunny D. They tear huge bites from their bagels and laugh silently on the other side of the glass, collared shirts tucked into belt and trouser. The tall one with the dark hair stands and slips a royal blue tie around the back of his neck. He talks talks talks, eyes bright, slipping silk and nylon around and around, up and over and through, not even having to think anymore about the rote motion of making that mighty noose.
Somewhere down the road, my own son rides in the back of his daddy’s 11-year-old Subaru past the private school. He is wearing Payless sneakers already rubbing bare at the toe even though I just bought them (yesterday?) He has on last year’s jacket. He won’t need it today. He plays and plays, building one version after another of a tower topped with armaments that can rule the world. He still believes everything is possible. He doesn’t yet conceive that anything is in his way.
There is this glass between these boys and me. I cannot hear them. Still, I hear. Their confidence booms. Today, I will go into the city and marvel at their grown-up counterparts stepping from the backs of gleaming black cars purring at the entrance to the Westin. I will make eye contact with one of the pair laughing with precision over half empty plates at a sidewalk cafe. The flint edge of his jaw will work against the sky as he drives home his point. He will glance back at me.
Fleeting. Maybe never there at all.
This summer December day. The worn out toe in my son’s shoe. The red leather handbag, butter and velvet, slung over the shoulder of the woman standing at the curb waiting for the light. The thin hips on the runner in the hot pink shorts, ponytail swinging as she turns the corner.
The bad taste in my mouth. The winter heat. The unresolved question. The pretty, the powerful, the cash, the castles.
Ancient ruins, cities rubble and weeds. We are gone. Everything we’ve ever loved and hated and coveted and ignored. Every truth, every law, every laugh.
Tiny braids spray across the girl’s narrow back, red hoops swaying from her ears. Her boredom, her long neck, her right leg crossed over the the left. Her lean, her gaze, her proximity, her anonymity.
We are dinosaurs. We are meteors. We are dust. We are the next big bang.
The wall of glass. The tight knot in royal blue. The worn out toe in my son’s shoe.
Nothing is in the way. Everything is possible.
Nothing is fixed. Everything is already gone.