Tuesday 3

It is a short walk past a national graveyard, two different liquor stores on opposite sides of the street. Both owned by Vietnamese families, but one family is nicer than the other, the one at O'Malleys. We pass a coffee shop and two pizza shops that have been closed for hours, and then at the corner of my street, there is the conveniece store, open all night. Outside two clerks smoke cigarettes, the man leaving the woman outside to hold his when a teenager leaves his car and enters the store. He speaks to her in Spanish, and she laughs so loud at what he says that it echoes in the air.

Marianne is not watching them. She is looking down at the sidewalk, at her feet. Her ponytail swaying, I reach up and grab it, hold it in my fist. She turns to me and I feel the pull, so I let go.

On the stairs outside my apartment, she is in front. I notice a patch on the seat of jeans that I hadn't noticed all night long, not before now. It is maroon corduroy sewn with yellow thread, wide, uneven stitches.

In the elevator, I say, "You can sew?"

She looks confused, but then it registers. She moves her leg and turns her back in a way that exposes her ass, runs a finger over the patch. She says, "This?"

I smile, say, "Yes."

"This isn't a good example. It's almost as worn out as the hole it's covering up."

In the yellow light of the elevator, the patch does look thin, like if I worked at it long enough with my finger, it would eventually give way and let me slide right through.

In the hallway, I look at my keychain like I don't know which one I need. There are only four there, and I consider them all. Marianne is bouncing on her toes, looking up and down the hallway, hands clenched at her sides. I can't decide if she is anxious or trying to shake the chill from her body.

Inside, my apartment is black but warm. The shades are drawn, so there aren't even street lights to greet us.

I close the door and Marianne says, "It's dark."

I turn on the living room light. But she is already taking off her jacket, walking toward the sofa, like light is not what she needs.

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