It was the Old Chem building that had the best windows. The classrooms looked right at the quad. Duke University. You could see the library and all the people walking in and out of it.
When I think about Autumn, sometimes I’m in the Old Chem building. I had a couple classes there. The one I remember the most was Philosophy 102. The professor was young, he had strange shoulders – they were like bird wings, but half formed, so his shirts hung on for fear of flying off. And we learned some interesting things, I guess, but mostly I was watching the bird shoulders, and the quad, the changing leaves, I liked it when it rained. I have a thing for umbrellas. I like how people under them are always walking fast.
It rained today, we needed it. The Triangle’s been in a drought. Our apartment creek is barren. The trees had gone brown, but not in an attractive way. Dead rust, parched throat, but all that’s better because it rained. A drizzle. The clouds came over like a circus. I watched them – 30mph, balloon animals. Puddles formed in backed-up gutters. A couple kids got mud on their shoes.
October – this is how you’re supposed to be; quiet, dreary, watched through a window.
Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand; I bought the first tin of this blend when I moved to Cary a year and two months ago. Our empty apartment – I brewed you quick and hot in the morning; I had the place to myself; nothing to keep me away from simplicity.
If September wears the vintage polka-dot dress to the party, October’s got the fitted romper. She’s less rambunctious but somehow less reserved. Of all the drinks she picks a Malbec and she sits in the corner where the lit geeks congregate (and conjugate, and…) but doesn’t talk to them. She’s there for the atmosphere – or at least that’s what you’re guessing. You’ve been watching her since 8:30, everyone has, and you’re pretty sure she hasn’t left the seat.
Finally, at last call, you get the courage to start a conversation, but there’s just a hat, gloves, chapstick where she’d been sitting. She left it. She didn’t really need these things. The host is piss-drunk and his partner’s taking care of him. You let yourself out. Outside, on the curb, you look up at the building’s still-lit windows and think about October’s wire-frames. You wish you could have gone home with her, but that leaves you feeling guilty of something deep and dark. It’s a long walk to the car. For the first time since graduation, you smoke a cigarette.
Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker