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Untitled by Erica Morris

After reading an excerpt from Jerry Spinelli's novel Stargirl:

Chapter 1: Narrator

She was fire. She was a raging hurricane, a tidal wave cratering the sand. She was the moonlit path to deep waters, a blanket of unraveling emotion, a spiral staircase to the heavens. He did not know what to make of her, her flowing locks as if was standing in a winter breeze before a powdered town. She was a constellation and a comet trailed by colors he had never seen. Eyes piercing him like a scythe. The calm before the winds whip within a spring tornado. Did she even see him?

He doesn't remember when her storm took him over. He just remembers when he first laid his laden eyes on her as the afternoon train exited at her station. She was the only person on the platform after exiting slowly, her moving like a morning swan, hardly a wake behind her. She then turned toward the departing train as if she was looking for something, lost in the gale winds that painted her figure, her skirt and cardigan clinging to ler like ivy. Her scarf. She had left it. He leapt forward grabbing it, it bunching in his hands. He instantly pulled it toward his face, breathing in the aroma of a flowering rose as he tore through the corridors toward the door, dodging the distracted people, some eyeing him for only a moment before delving back into their papers and screens. He was overcome by a swell of grief and silence as the doors closed, her poised gaze locking with his. His eyes regained light as the train quickened. Their eyes locked time into place, a palpable magnetic pull of energy coursing through his veins. The stars spoke and called to him, and he knew the collision was intentional and transformative–if they never met again he would never recover.

He heard his rapid breaths and heartbeat against his jacket. She faded into the past, her turning away just as the train curved away. He was now headed to a destination he no longer cared to arrive.

The anchor had dropped. Him frozen in an arctic tundra of peculiar emotion. He returned to his seat a changed man. Amazing how sixty seconds can feel so steady and unbroken. Amazing how quickly sixty seconds can change one’s life and disturb one’s future, shattering reality.

Chapter 2: Aria

This wasn’t my stop. I just felt like stopping. I was aware that the trip would have been another 45 minutes. This was a rather odd stop, unattended and inconsistent with the others. I wasn’t even convinced that there would be another passing train soon. I was the only one alerting to depart here, only a few flitting eyes in my direction from those who I required to let me pass. Everyone else was lost in another world of paying more attention to strangers within an illuminated screen than the people surrounding them. Some typed mindlessly long-winded replies, some lost in data on a hasty phone call with someone who was deemed important. I feel the familiar outline of my phone I had placed snugly in the front pocket of my bag. I didn't need it but didn’t want to leave it either. I had done it several times springing next to a one-way train knowing it was too late. I have felt unseen lately. The glazed eyes and busy travelers only exacerbated my state.

I stepped off the platform feeling out of place but confident in my decision. I hadn’t always utilized the RAIL system, but recently I needed to escape my emotional drought and give myself an opportunity to think, watch, and listen, versus facing the inconsistent traffic. Sometimes it took me 25 minutes to get to work. Sometimes it took 40. I had grown tired of it, my car feeling more like a suffocating sheath than a welcoming commute to decompress like it used to be. Plus, if I want to, I can work on the train. I hadn’t opted for it yet, only because I found the people who worked busily only the shells of human beings. I turned back instantly, realizing I had forgotten my scarf. The scarf that seamlessly pulled my outfit together.

It had only been six months since he left me. I guess loss can take your identity away. I only hoped I didn’t feel like this forever. Feeling like a spectator watching from outside my body can be exhausting.

Chapter 3: Rowan

I’m sitting next to a woman coughing from an obvious 200-year nicotine addiction. The smoke expelled from her clothes and skin burned and transported me back to my father’s house. I dunno, I guess if there was another seat available, I’d move. But alas, here we are. My sigh felt rude. Not to mention she was coughing all over her hands, incorrectly in the eyes of health findings. I hope she didn’t have to introduce herself to anyone today. An uncomfortable woman sitting across from her pulled hand sanitizer from her bag and feverishly applied it to her hands. She then prompted her son, playing a game on his Nintendo Switch, to follow suit. I grew increasingly uneasy but felt a wave of relief when my eyes fell on a woman standing ahead, almost lost in my view. I motioned to her to take my seat, feeling guilty I stuck her next to the woman but needing to get away. Selfish, I know. To be fair, she looked like she could put away a carton a day as well. Upbeat and thankful for the rare sign of chivalry, she gladly accepted the respite from the catch in her stomach that is ever-present when standing on the next generation of the rails. As I brush past her, I offer a courtesy smile but feeling my face turn red when I am reminded of why I gave up my seat in the first place. Unsettled from the smoker lady, I looked out the window feeling defeated and weary. I guess my sleep routine needed to be addressed. Who was I kidding? I haven’t slept in what seems like months.

Chapter 4: Aria

Maybe this was my body’s way of telling me to take a break from the rush of humanity and rest in the silence of this rest stop. I perched on a bench after being engulfed by the dust that I disturbed from the surface. I reminded myself to sit up straight. I tended to slump over when I sat. I really didn’t prefer to scoot back on the bench for support since this particular seating option had clearly been abandoned. The cracks in the cement told a story that this stop will not be here very much longer. Taking in and studying my surroundings, caution tape sectioned off an area near a building boarded up. Flattened land surrounding the small slab of concrete indicated a forming construction site. A bird flew overhead, causing a small whirlwind of leaves to scatter at my feet. Lost in thought about the dusty bench, it startled me. I decided not to sit but to stand near the now-departing train knowing, though, I did not find myself gracing this landing again. I stood closely to the train and felt the wind whip my clothes and hair around. I had my eyes closed but took one step back and opened them. A sensation of melancholic sorrow drowned me in its grasping waves. My eyes fluttering quickly from the crisp air gripping my eyes, the tear falling down my face wasn’t from the cold; it was grief.

I glanced up again toward the windows that just 1 minute earlier I was on the other side of. My eyes danced down the different windows taking in once again the distracted mass of robots slowly passing me by. The fifth window caused my breath to catch. My eyes focused on what I was looking at. A man, yes. It wasn’t a man, though. He felt more like a figment of space and time than a human being. His expression was solemn yet soft. Eyes strikingly hazel, like the sun reflecting off of a roaring river. My head cocked as I let this moment unravel within. He was slowly leaving my line of sight and drifting toward a curve on the horizon, his image indenting my world. It was disconcerting that a mere minute could affect me this much. It was amazing a minute could pass by so quickly and so slowly. I closed my eyes again, wiping the remnants of my tears that carved a jetty down my face, a clear barrier between my cheek and my now-maimed makeup. I turned out of the wind and took refuge under the awning. I spotted fragmented, deserted webs of spiders now gone. An empty wasp nest that had likely housed a family of sorts. My mind raced. What now?

Chapter 5: Rowan

My glance turns into a second. Smoker Lady drifted away into the abyss as I caught sight of her. A specimen connected to my by the Universe herself. Hair blowing in the wind like waves in a frequency, her eyes bright and other-wordly, like rare pearls. She couldn’t be real. I slumped into a seat and rubbed my eyes. This lack of sleep really was starting to become a problem. If only my mind would stop for a moment, maybe I could slip into another world of rest and there would not be thoughts creating a mutiny of sullen monotony. I sighed and decided to get my phone out. I might as well do today’s Wordle. I don’t even like doing them or know why I bother, but sometimes it was a way to spend mindless energy to still feel alive. I always got the word. My sister was obsessed but shocker, she always is with the craze of something that people are creating into a thing. I don’t have things. Maybe that was my problem. The train clicked into gear and I heard the steam erupting from the top of it. I looked out the window, my head lying against the window. I glanced up as a bird flew close to the train window, its feathers almost gone so fast it was an illusion. I then saw her again. Our eyes locked like magnets as a jolt of electricity shot through my veins. I had to meet her. Know her. She was already everything. I raced down the corridor, dipping and swerving through people and the poles people clung to almost crashing into those sitting at the windows. One man responded to my near-knock with a sloshing of his coffee, eyeing me through a thin slit of inconvenience as coffee dripped down the side of the mug onto his computer monitor. He flayed out his fingers in disgust and opted to get up abruptly to come after me and take revenge. He didn’t get to me, though. The woman next to him had a baby nestled into her blouse, sleeping and pink with the warmth that sleep brings. I was already far away, almost willing the space and time between her and I to disappear. There was no other reason to live but chase after this being. I have never felt this way about my late wife, a woman who’d let herself go before they had begun counseling only cut short by a drunk driver as she made her way home from a job she loved. We were on the mend, a new beginning forming before him. It was almost as if since we were married there was no reason to dress up or call my attention to her. Day in. Day out. Monotony. A roommate who happened to share a son with me. Had the odds played out in our favor, we could very well be wrapped in a blanket of swirling feelings and passionate love. We never got that chance. But, oh, had we tried to return to when we had first met.

Chapter 6: Narrator

She slouched against the outer wall still wavering from the wind and the gusts of an attraction so strong it shook her to her core. As her back slid down the wall, she questioned herself and spoke a mantra. “You’ve just gotten divorced. This was a simple case of a baseless mirage. This isn’t happening. I must have imagined the entire moment.” She stayed there a few more moments allowing her breath to slow. The earth would lose the ability to rotate on its axis if he were not hers. Maybe it was time to move forward and away from the man who had deserted her and her two sons. It was a losing game now. And she refused to lose.

To be continued...

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