The morning, good; the morning, relentless—she tip-toes
out the front door in her ex-husband's brown patent leather shoes.
Outside. Walking again. On her own two feet but not in her own
two shoes. It's a Monday. It's an autumn. It's a neighborhood
with tricycles strewn in front lawns, with spent confetti in the
gutters, with Japanese trees, with Greek columns, with the reliable
sound of the working class commute in the distance. The shoes, four sizes too big, nearly slip as she half saunters, half staggers on
her way to the bakery on Bellevue. She's hungry for predetermined conversation, an exchange between a patron and a cashier. There's a young boy playing with a water hose. He waves enthusiastically. She matches it with a wave of her own as she passes by. The boy turns away, runs toward his home. She feels self-conscious and there's something in the pocket of her ex-husbands linen suit jacket, a bottle of cologne.
The door chimes as she walks into the bakery. The cashier says good morning before looking at her. The cashier's eyes quickly scan her and dart away. She's a child in her ex-husbands clothes. She orders a coffee. She asks for a Splenda packet. "I like my coffee like I like my women," she says. "Hot and artificially sweet." Pity laugh. Nervous laugh, maybe. It's not even her joke. He tells her the price. She hands him the money. Thank you. No, thank you.
She sits alone by a window. She's an alien doing normal people things. She's tired and whatever spark got her out the door may not get her home. A man seated at the table behind her sneezes once, twice, three times.
"I'm sorry," he says. "I think I'm allergic to your perfume."
"Me too," she says.