Gloves. Everywhere. They’re what sparked this concept and they’re what I see most often. This glove was in a spot off my usual routes. It seemed particularly prominent and yet because of the arrangement of the wet spots around it, had clearly been there all day. It seemed to have been pulled off in some haste – balled up partially and partially inside out. I began to picture an urgent need to interact with a smartphone. And then I thought of who was answering the call and who was calling. And I found myself back with the very first character we met on this journey, wondering how she was healing.
At 9:47 AM on January 17, the young woman, walking east on Sweet Avenue 100 yards west of Main Street, extracted her smart phone from the left pocket of her midnight blue peacoat. She looked at the screen, cradling the phone in her left hand. Almost immediately, her brows pulled together and she tapped the screen with the index finger of her right hand. The finger, covered in a purple knit glove made no change on the screen which showed “Incoming call – MPD OFCR Hugedude.”
She stopped walking. She shook her head three times and then pinched the back of the phone onto her left palm with pinkie, ring and middle fingers. With her free index finger and thumb, she dug under the cuff of her coat and then under the hem of the purple glove on her right wrist. She pulled the glove off, took it in her right fist, jabbed that fist into the right pocket of her coat and brought the now bare and free right hand back toward the left hand.
She didn’t notice that the balled up glove was drawn out from its intended destination by the retreating hand and now hung in the opening of the pocket.
She moved the phone with the thumb of her left hand back so that the phone was again cradled face up in her cupped, purple-clad hand and touched the screen with her right index finger. She held the phone up to her ear and said, “hello?” After just under a second she said, “Hello” again. Her brows drew together and her eyelids squeezed partially closed as she brought the phone in front of her face again. She flattened and tightened her lips as she looked at the screen. It showed the message “One Missed Call: MPD OFCR Hugedude – 09:48AM January 17, 2018” laid over two rows of four icons and a picture of an orange tabby cat with a paw over it’s right eye and its right ear folded inside out. She stood motionless, staring at the screen for 11 seconds. The phone buzzed in her hand and the message changed to “New Voicemail From: MPD OFCR Hugedude – 09:48AM . 1:08.”
She breathed in, her chest expanding noticeably under the dark blue wool of her coat. She blew the breath out noisily through rounded lips as she touched the notification. She looked around her on the sidewalk and put the phone to her ear. For 73 seconds she stood in silence, almost immobile. The only movements were the slow rise and fall of her chest and the growth and travel of a droplet of liquid in the corner of her right eye near her nose. It began forming after 23 seconds. By 56 seconds it was approximately 1.5 mm in diameter and began to move away from the eye down the side of her nose. At 64 seconds the liquid began to gather in the crease around the nostril. By the time she pulled the phone from her ear, there was a droplet clinging to the underside of her right nostril.
She began to walk, eastbound, looking at the screen for a moment before squeezing a button on the left side of the phone with her left index finger and jabbing the phone into the pocket of her coat. After 18 seconds, she flared and contracted her nostrils and then swiped her right hand up and across her nose. This movement raised the right side of her coat by five inches. When she brought her hand back down to her side, the coat fell abruptly and a ball of purple polyester fell from the opening of the right pocket onto the ground. It landed on the sidewalk and bounced.
She continued to walk and was three steps away from the glove when she pulled her phone back out of her pocket, held it seven inches in front of her mouth and said, “Okay google. Call Lacey.” She put the phone to her ear as she curved around on the sidewalk headed up south on Main Street. Seventeen seconds later, she said, “Hi Lace. You’re probably in class.” She took in a breath unevenly, let it out, breathed in again without impairment and said, “Officer Gigantor wants to talk to me again. Can you…” She stopped again. She breathed in and out deeply and deliberately again. “Can you come with me? At noon? At the police station? Call me. Or text me. Or just meet me in the square? Love you.”
. . .
58 minutes later, a young woman came out of the door to Shoup Hall on West Sixth Street. She stopped on the concrete slab outside the door, set down the off-white canvas bag dangling from her left hand and lifted the green gore-tex coat in her right hand. She used her left hand to open the coat, put her left hand in the sleeve and searched with her right hand for a moment. As the coat moved during the search, the right side swung like a pendulum. Just as she found the sleeve and began to slide her arm into it, a shiny black object tumbled out of the rising right pocket. Her face turned quickly toward the movement and she said, “shit” as the smartphone landed on the embroidered rose petal on the canvas bag.
She leaned down and picked the phone up with her right hand. She looked at the screen, moved her thumb on the side of the phone once. A moment later, her thumb tensed and held on the same spot for four seconds and the screen of the phone lit up. She picked up the bag and put the straps over her right shoulder. She began angling on the walkway toward Sixth Street eastbound. When she reached the sidewalk she began muttering to herself, “That’s funny. I can’t find it anywhere.” She took two steps and then said, “I packed it myself and can’t remember where.” She took another step, then, “To the Ragulins…I’ve arranged to take care of the house… as a housekeeper… if you like…”
Her head came up and turned to the left. Her brows drew slightly together and lowered. Her eyes flicked right and down, back to center then to the right again. Her voice came again, this time just below conversational volume, “Where can it be… maybe I put it in the trunk…” She took in a breath with some difficulty, then said, “Yes. Life in this house has come to an end!” Her voice lowered in tone and went up in volume. And both eyes were filled with tears as they looked at the residence hall tower in the middle distance.
Her left foot stepped into the grass as two women moved by her on her right, their heads turning to look at her as they passed. She stopped walking, breathing in deeply and looked down at her left foot in the grass. She looked up and around, turning her to look over her right shoulder at the backs of the two women. She swiped the back her right hand across her right eye and then wiped her left eye with her right middle finger. Still standing one foot on the grass and one on the sidewalk her mouth broke into an enormous smile. Her gaze swept up and to the right then back to the left as she said breathily, “Holy shit. I saw the fucking orchard. I saw it and he was standing right next to me.”
There was a buzzing sound and she let out a small, muffled squeak. Her right hand, which still held her phone, swept up from her hip and in front of her. The hand spasmed open and the phone buzzed again as it rose on a steep ballistic arc that peaked at six feet six inches. Just over a half second after it reached its peak, the phone landed in the grass four and a half feet directly in front of her. It buzzed again just as it landed.
She huffed out a breath and then began to laugh. She bent over and picked the phone out of the grass and looked at the screen. There were three lines of text visible under the glaring glass. The first read; “New voicemail from BFF” The second read: “Emma’s Mom: Any idea why E is suddenly…” And the third read: “Stinky: We didn’t set a rehearsal t…”
She quickly moved her thumb up the side of the phone. The screen lit up and she swiped her left index finger up. She tapped on the screen four times waited a moment and then tapped once more and put the phone to her right ear. After 27 seconds, she moved the phone in front of her eyes and tapped the screen. She scanned up the screen for a moment. Her eyes moved down on the screen and she brought her left index finger back toward the screen. The movement stopped when a voice behind her said, “Lacey!” She turned and a young man, approaching from the west said, “I’m glad I caught you. We need to figure out when we’re going to rehearse.”
The young woman, Lacey, turned. Her eyes located his face and again her mouth formed a wide smile. “St – Jason! You won’t believe what just happened.” Her right hand moved to put the phone in the pocket of her coat while her left hand rose to his arm. Her right hand followed and as it touched his left upper arm, Jason’s eyes went wide. She said, “Jase, I saw the orchard. I saw it!” She looked over her left shoulder and then turned back. “Do you have time now?”
. . .
At 12:02 PM, the young woman in the midnight blue peacoat stood up from the wide concrete edge of the now dry fountain just east of Main Street and just west of the entrance to the police station. She held her left hand up in front of her face and looked at the smartphone cradled there. Here eyes slowly closed and then reopened. The right side of her upper lip quivered slightly before she sucked in an enormous breath. She raised her bare, balled up right hand to her mouth and blew the breath out over and through it as she took a step toward the station. It began to rain lightly as she curved around the dead end circle of Fourth Street.
. . .
Just over three hours later, the young woman passed the fountain again, westbound from the end of Fourth Street and across Main Street. She curved left onto the sidewalk on Main Street. As she passed the front of the Chamber of Commerce, she turned and looked at the windows to her right. She stopped in front of the last window and turned to intently at the poster hanging just inside. She began to closely focus on the upper left hand portion of the image and a smile formed on her lips. She nodded once, turned to her left and began walking again.
On Sweet Avenue, a lanky man had just turned east on the sidewalk from the WAMI building and was walking toward Main Street. As the sidewalk began to curve south, he looked down and to his right and stopped. He pulled his phone out of his pocket, crouched down and held the phone upright, pointing toward Main Street. Just under three seconds later, he stood up and continued around the curve and onto Main Street.
Six-tenths of a mile east, the young woman passed the gyro restaurant. Her right fist was at her mouth and she was blowing into it. A voice ahead of her said, “where’s your glove?”
The young woman said, “Hi Lace. I honestly have-”
Lacey interrupted, speaking quickly and at a slightly higher than normal volume, “I am SO sorry I missed the. Are you okay? Is everything all. I got so caught up. I’m so selfish.” Lacey was crying.
The young woman reached out with her bare right hand and caught Lacey’s left wrist. She pulled and extracted Lacey’s hand from the coat pocket and slid her own hand down the wrist and took her friend’s hand. “Lace. It’s okay.”
Lacey, only as her friend tugged her arm, began tilting her head up to catch the other’s eyes. She began to speak, “It’s not, I should have…” She trailed off as her eyes took in the eyes of her friend and she felt the skin of her friend’s hand contact the palm of her left hand. “Holy shit. You’re. You’re you.”
“Maybe almost,” the young woman said over a chuckle.
“So the meeting with Officer Gigantor was okay?” Lacey smiled.
“It was what it was. He said that, he – the – he is going to…. There’s not going to be a trial.”
“Is that -”
“He’s going to be punished so, yeah it is.”
“So everything’s going to be…”
“No. But I feel better today than yesterday.”
Lacey said, “Still I should have been -” A pressure on her left hand stopped her.
“It’s okay. I managed it and. It’s okay. I don’t want to talk about it. Let’s. Hey.” The young woman turned and began pulling Lacey back north on Main Street. When they reached the Chamber of Commerce, they stopped and the young woman pointed to the poster she had been examining earlier. She said, “That’s you! Why didn’t I…” She trailed off and said, “I’m sorry I couldn’t see you in that one.”
Lacey was looking at the picture intently. After four seconds, she shook her head and said, “No. It’s okay. I was bad in that.” Then she suddenly smiled and turned. She put her hands on the young woman’s shoulders and said, “But you HAVE to come see the showcase. I … had a breakthrough.”
“You mean Stinky is going to -”
Lacey interrupted, “No!” The young woman’s eyes widened. “Sorry,” Lacey continued. “No. It’s not that. It was never about Stinky – Jason. It was always about me. I needed to find me and the world and me in that world and just… Live it. I’m sorry. That probably doesn’t make sense.”
The young woman looked at Lacey’s face and smiled. They both stood in silence. Neither of them took note of the fact that their breathing fell into synchronization. The young woman said, “I think. I think maybe it does make some sense.”