I thought of how fast Eve walked. How swiftly her legs traversed these streets. Over the gnarled tree roots pushing up the concrete. Over the potholes in the asphalt. Up stairs and down hills. Now I was the quick one. I was the one who moved swiftly.
I could hear Mel breathing heavily beside me. We were nearly jogging at this point. We didn’t talk to each other. I watched the parking lots turn into buildings turn into streets turn back into parking lots back into buildings back into streets back into parking lots. It was dark. It was tall. I went south, then west. Mel did not ask where we were going. She just followed.
Possessed. Like I was trying to find something. Like there was something that I was trying to reach. Like I thought I was about to get there. I would get there any second, I was sure.
And there? There was the end. There was the beginning. There was where things were going to begin again. There was where I was going to find myself another chance. There was where I could imagine myself flying out from under the memory of Eve in this city and instead see it projected into myself.
It was dark. The lamps glowed over us. Some were warmer than others. We passed the neon lights of a gentlemen’s club. I never saw anyone go in or out of that place. Just the security guard, standing there, looking weary and wary. I’d never gone into a place like that before. I never wanted to. It seemed so sad. It seemed so painful. Mostly, it seemed sad. Sad men and sad women. Of course, there were revelers, too, but even that was sad. There was just something ugly about it. I imagined that there were incredibly powerful women in there. Women who wore too much makeup at night on purpose so that they wouldn’t be recognized in the daylight. Women who were stronger than anyone would ever give them credit for.
I didn’t look long. It wasn’t in my sights for long. I just kept going. Mel kept up with me. She kept up with me silently. I was surprised that she did not make any comment about being uncomfortable, that she did not say anything about how fast I was going or how tired she might have been.
I started to sweat. I didn’t want to stop. I still didn’t want to stop. I wanted to walk forever. I wanted to walk all the places that I had walked with Eve, and I wanted to walk beyond all of those places. I wanted to go farther than we had gone. There was more. There was more than what we saw together. There was more than what she showed me. There was more for me to discover. I had to keep telling myself that. I had to keep telling myself that there was a way.
“I think we’re going too far, Lara.” Mel grabbed my arm and turned me to face her. “Let’s stop. Let’s turn around. Or let’s find a cab.”
We turned and looked around. It was desolate. There were trees. Buildings. Parking lots. Cracked sidewalk. Few taxis.
“We can head back. We can turn around.” I turned to her and smiled. “Was this what you had in mind when you invited me for a walk?”
“I knew something like this would happen. I knew you wanted to go. I knew you wanted to run and go at whatever pace you could. I knew you needed to.” She looked down. “Those legs, Lara. Those legs want to go places. Those legs just want to go. And you don’t let them enough. You walk around the same six blocks every day and you don’t let them go. You keep walking over the same places. And I know you’re thinking about her, but think about yourself once in a while. Think about where you want to go, not just want you want to remember.”
“How do you know that’s what I need to do? How do you know that’s what I need?” I was exasperated because she saw me. She saw something in me that I did not realize was so visible. Something in me that I didn’t realize could be seen so plainly by someone. By someone who knew nothing of me, or next to nothing.
Strangers are sometimes so in tune with us. Somehow they know things about us that we don’t know ourselves, that those closes to us do not know and cannot grasp. That those closest to us are unable to see simply because their vision cannot expand to capture all of the parts of us that they are afraid of, that they do not want to know, that they do not want to see.
We see the people we want to see when we look in the mirror, too. We want to see the person that we are used to loving, used to hating, used to being. We simply are.
I looked in the mirror sometimes and felt like I did not know who looked back at me. Especially lately. Especially now that time kept passing and making me feel like it was passing me by.
And Eve’s ghost there, beside me, reminding me of her, of what things were like. And I knew that I was separating from it, or trying to, and that is why I kept walking so fast. That is why I needed to walk so far. To get away from her. To get away from those memories. To pull us apart. Though I had made the decision to divide myself, it hadn’t happened yet. I was still there. i was still in the same few places. I needed to pull away.
“I guess I see more than you think you show,” Mel said. “The only question is what next, Lara?”
“Other than climbing back up to your apartment and making a pot of tea, I’m not sure.”
“That’s enough for now. I’ll ask you again after you make that tea. We have a long walk ahead of us.”