I sat on top of a news-box downtown for half an hour with a book in my lap, trying to tune out the religious zealots handing out sheets of paper with the word Jesus at the top. Too exhausted to run for the bus, I was twenty minutes late. No one was there. No one came. I did not expect them to. Dinner had obviously been decided without me. No way to contact my friends, I decided to gather my chores in hand before I went back to the hospital. Official visiting hours are over, I thought, and I am having difficulty imagining myself mouth that I am Devon’s wife.
The drugstore felt hollow, as if somehow I had fallen into a facsimile. I stood in the hair care aisle and let my eyes scan the products without me, looking for the word Organic. In my head, I would try to concentrate on the mundane task I was undertaking, but instead I would glimpse Devon in surgery, a garden of stars unconscious on a table, the illusion of a slight flash of the metal knife as it sliced into his skin. Eventually I chose two bottles of shampoo and turned to find soap. The cheap soaps are sometimes the best. Less scent means less chemicals. Small thoughts that have nothing to do with what went wrong or his face on the bed.
Earlier, I had to re-set my day’s plans. Alicia was to come by for eleven and I had set my day by that. Things came up however, as they often do, and it was two o’clock before she could swing by for her errand, so things red-shifted over a bit. I had dinner with Andrew instead of Alastair, and instead of going to a fencing demo, when I got off the bus across from Duello, I followed random impulse and turned left into Gastown. There’s a shop there I rather like, crammed with odd antiques and paper masks. In the basement there’s a chinese chest full of hundreds of small drawers that can steal an hour if your life if you let it. This time, however, I knew exactly what I came for. At the foot of the stairs is a small display of golden music boxes, the sort you crank by hand to hear the music. They’re louder when you place them on wood. I sorted through them as efficiently as possible to find the one that played the Beatles song, She Loves You.
Going back to Duello, I fell into step behind a man I didn’t recognize. I heard him unlock the school doors above me and cursed a wee bit, knowing that meant that I’d missed everyone. I poked my head in anyway, curious to see if I was wrong. “Who’re you looking for?” “I thought to catch Devon.” “He’s in the hospital today.”
At that, I turned and ran, another impulse. Down the stairs, across the street, down the hill, straight to Waterfront train station, where Randy happened to be standing inside the hall. Seeing him, standing perfectly as if framed for me to find him, I recognized my impulses as the impelling force of cinematic timing and I laughed. I stopped running and walked up to him. He covered the mouth of his cell phone for a moment, “Hey Jhayne, I’ve got news for you.” “Yes, but what hospital?” We stood chatting for close to ten minutes, glad to be in company, “I just talked to him, he’s obviously not dying,” then took the train together. As soon as the doors opened on Granville station, I began running again.
There was a group of boys on the escalators, seven deep on either stair, pretending they were surfing. Such was my blithesom running that I decided they were an obstacle I wouldn’t wait for, rather I made thier day by jumping up onto the slippery thin metal divide between them and dangerously running up that instead. They cheered, but for safety’s sake, I didn’t look back down. Another two blocks and I was on the bus, feeling as if my legs were going to mutiny if I forced them one more step.