You notice the crow first.
Then the breakfast it’s made, spilt open on the pavement, examining it for the best parts. He takes his pick and leaves you there, wondering whether life tastes metallic in his mouth. It is already 12:30, and you wonder if this is a bad sign. You would run but for the soreness in your legs, each hour on your shift last night, etched into your joints. You are going to lose your knees this way, perpetually taking orders, another ticket in the window, another pint to serve.
Across the state, a man is mourning his wife. Across town, a woman is making love to a man in your old bed. Putting dishes into your old cupboards. Save face. Good etiquette says it is not right to cry over what you do not own. This good man, asleep in his living room for fear of their marriage bed. On a drive to Chelan, you asked him how they met. At a bar. He says the second time he saw her, he sat down at her table. Talked to her till the man she was with came back. Informed the gentlemen that this was his seat now. He didn’t protest. This man never looked back. And if he did, it must have been to admire his sure footing, the terrific set of stairs he climbed to get to her.
You’re selfish, telling their story. For saying success but praying failure for the men you’ve loved.
You close the bar. Marry all the bottles of booze. Take the trash out to the alley, the city block sharp and quiet in its 3 am. You catch a ride with a co-worker; she puts whiskey and ginger ale in her coffee cup and sips it while she drives. You haven’t been a child for thirteen years. Still, you trust the car that takes you home, the catch of the clutch. Your keys are never where they started, tossed loosely in your bag. Find the one that fits. She’ll wait to make sure you get inside.