North 19th Street by Marilyn Duarte

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A woman with faded pink curlers bouncing in her hair and an oversized T-shirt swelling in the breeze, stands in front of the closed, Old School Pub on North 19th Street. Next to a stack of newspapers piled high underneath a “For Sale” sign, she waves a thick, folded copy in the air, when I drive past her in the morning. Sweat pours down her face and her hands are stained with black ink, when I pass her in the afternoon.

You are not home when I arrive at your brown clapboard bungalow. My eyes trace the bare living room walls and I wonder: Where are the pictures of you and your siblings as children making sandcastles on the beach? Where are the tacky souvenirs from your trip through the Southern States last summer? Where are the notebooks I gave you? In the kitchen, sunlight enters through a small window and lands on my left forearm as I peer through your unlit fridge to try and satisfy my hunger. There is only a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and potato bread, but no butter. 

Outside, an orange cat stretches on your overgrown lawn, and Scrub Jays splash in warm puddles in the middle of the street. I walk towards the nearby gas station in search of food, and hear an orchestra of wind chimes cling-clang to the rhythm of the breeze. A neighbor’s rickety staircase leads to a landing that holds a pile of cardboard boxes. Bright blue and neon pink beach towels, in place of curtains, hang inside their window frames, offering protection: an extension of love.

 

Marilyn holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Tampa’s low-residency program and is currently a Creative Nonfiction Contributing Editor at Barren Magazine. Her work has appeared in Ellipsis ZineThe Tishman ReviewAssay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, and elsewhere. Originally from Toronto, she now divides her time between Canada and Portugal. Visit her at www.marilynduartewriter.com.

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