He sways slightly, uneasy on his feet, the strong scent of taxicab exhaust pipes
overwhelming his sinuses. The sun is coming up—or is it going down, and he had just woken up—or had he not slept at all? He lights a cigarette, fingers fumbling with childproof safeties. From the outside, he must look rather happy, a grin on his face that gave off the impression everything was okay. Is everything okay? He checks his phone for the time but finds it dead, relies on the watch on his wrist, also dead, and decides there’s no time like the present: always a sucker for clichés. He flicks his cigarette, lights another and walks forward, despite his leaning sideways. What day is it? Light reflects off skyscraper windows, not only making his headache worse but reminding him that yes, the sun is indeed coming up and it’s close to noon. The thought of this alone makes his headache worse: how long has he been out here? Stumbling into the closest pharmacy he can find, he picks up a bottle of Advil, grabs a bottle of water and makes his way to the register. The young cashier looks him up and down, a look of disgust and annoyance on her face as he proceeds to ask her name and if she’d want to get a drink after her shift. “Eleven thirty,“ she states, looking over his shoulder. “I’ll meet you here at twelve then,” he says, slurring, smiling all too big. “No sir, that’s your total. Eleven dollars and thirty cents.” His smile drops as he drops twelve crumpled dollars on the counter, gathering his bag and leaving without his change. Again, he checks his phone for the time—dead. He checks his watch for the time—dead. What day is it? He shuffles down streets littered with bodies that all somehow remind him of her—that girl has her hair, and that man has her eyes, and that woman has her smile and had he just woken up from a dream of her, or had he not slept at all out of regret? Storefronts pass in blurry lines, shoulders pushing passed him in a stressful rush, bits, and pieces of conversations hang in the air as voices trail by him, creating an itching desire to write within his fingertips. He takes an Advil, chugs the water, moves forward feeling less awake but more aware, to a corner store full of odds and ends. He pays in more crumpled bills and asks where the nearest park is. His feet effortlessly lead him there, a warm breeze dragging his body through traffic as if somehow the ground knows he needs the assistance. Six blocks later, he sits on a park bench and shakes the notebook and pen from the plastic bag that tells him to have a good day. Day? Afternoon? What time is it? What day is it? He dismisses these petty thoughts and grips the pen firmly, his hands finally settling. The letters look sloppy, slanting sideways, picking themselves up as he continues on, a stream of thoughts pushing outward from behind a dam whose long-lived crack finally burst. He flips pages, scribbling everything he had held in the past few months—years?—and wonders if she’d forgive him long enough to read the sentences that ran together in a coherent, incoherent jumble of grammatical flaws and personal errors—or vice versa. He lights a cigarette, his fingers silent, yet still unable to grasp the childproof safety without difficulty. Exhaling, he closes his eyes and flips the notebook closed. Somewhere in the distance, or in a distant memory, a church bell rings four o’clock. Has he only been up a few hours—or did he not sleep at all? He rubs his eyes, places the notebook in his backpack and leans back against the bench. What day is it? Did he take the change from the pharmacy earlier? What good is change anyway? He lifts himself from the bench and shuffles back down streets littered with bodies that all somehow remind him of her.

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