the thing i regret most about that visit, is that i didn’t wear a heavier coat.
there was a light flurry of snow covering the rusted tracks and quiet city. i had taken the train down, the station was located in the centre of the city’s industrial section and the sun had already set after dinnertime. though dark, you could still make out the clouds of smog collecting from the hundreds of factory smokestacks pumping it out. it was freezing and my arms had gone numb on the walk over to her mom’s basement apartment. i remember passing a small park beside an abandoned convenience store. it looked as though it had been torched months ago and left in disarray.
near the outer parts of the industrial side there were small apartment buildings and townhouses in various states of repair. the one i was looking for sat across from an old army tank. a relic from a veteran who salvaged each piece over a series of years and finally choose to construct it on his front porch. i pushed for further details upon hearing this, alas the gentlemen went inside before the first snowfall of the season and came out in an ambulance a few weeks thereafter.
her mothers building stood three stories tall and had a tax office on the main floor that was only open during the beginning of the year. the main entrance had a plywood board over it and a large red “X” spray painted on, with some minor graffiti tags. i walked out to the back where another door with bars and chained fogged glass, had several locks running along its side. there was a small brown box to the right of it with a dial pad and a pushed-in speaker. i punched in “1-0-2-*” and a small ring emitted from the speaker. it rang twice before a muffled, “hello?” came out.
“hi, it’s just me – sorry i’m a bit late the train was off schedule and-“, the speaker buzzed and cut me off.
“who is this?” said the female voice.
“oh, i’m sorry i’m looking for allie – i might have typed in the wrong number-” the speaker buzzed cutting me off again.
“she’ll be right-” the voice cut out as the speaker emitted a horrendous screeching feedback.
i stepped back and looked around, the snow was still coming down and the moon was still hidden behind the smog. i heard a distant slam and echoed stomping come from the building. i looked to the door and made out a blurry figure jostling the door open. a dainty hand with purple nail polish emerged banging on the side of the door as it became stuck on the concrete below it, a scrapping noise following the motion. allie emerged, slamming the door behind her. a crackling of metal and glass as the frame absorbed the blow.
“hello,” she said wearing a bright red winter coat and a denim skirt. she had dyed her hair a tint of pink and blue – different then the coarse blonde she had in the summer. the coat was puffy and made her figure quite humorous. she probably weighed only a hundred pounds and this made it seem as though she could float off into the night sky. the irony of the skirt was lost upon me however. she let out a smile that warmed my insides, and her blue eyes still stood out from her hair. “do i get a hug, or are you going to stand there forever?”
“uh- no, no – sorry,” i moved over to her and hugged her. she smelt of strawberries and tobacco. an odd combination – the only thing that had’t changed since the last time i saw her.