The City

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They walked, hand in hand, down their favorite streets, peeking up inside windows with half drawn curtains, lit up dining tables, whispering and laughing.

One day they were going to live in one of those apartments, with a dog with white and gray fur who slept on the staircase and lazily wagged his tail, and a secret private garden filled with flowers with upturned petals and shy herbs swaying beneath. It was late and they were drunk from the bottles of cheap wine they drank on the stoop, their stoop, far away from here. She was wearing the red dress she never had the special occasion she envisioned to wear and her toes were beginning to hurt from the high heels. But it didn’t matter, because he had an arm around her waist, pulling her so that when she walked she was falling a little, too, falling into him.

A taxi rushed past them on the street and splashed droplets of the puddles remaining from the rainstorm on the hem of her skirt and she pulled at the fabric, closer to her legs. He suddenly pulled her by her arm and pressed her against a wall and kissed her, hard and fast. It stung, where his fingers dug into her upper arm, tiny little imprints. Let’s go home, he said into her ear, his breath hot. She giggled and shook her head. But they had so much more to do here, so much more to plan. The color of the curtains and what sort of china. The exotic appetizers she would make to impress the guests.

He convinced her, though, he always did, with his teeth sinking lightly into her poppy-red stained lower lip, his hand teasing at her hipbones. They were one of the few people waiting in the subway station, like a prison, a dungeon, she told him, feeling the sticky summer heat, the discomfort filling up all at once. He grinned and said, let’s be prisoners then, and pumped his fist in the air, singing a made up pirate song with gusto. They attracted stares. She told him to stop but couldn’t stop laughing.

They squeezed into the car and sat opposite each other until the woman with the worn face but kind eyes offered to switch her seat so that they could be together, her head cradled against his chest, eyes fluttering a content exhausion closed. The train did the late night slow crawl when they crossed back over the East River, into their small room in the big apartment, tonight with absent roommates. He was hungry and he microwaved leftovers while she sighed with pleasure as she slipped off the heels, scuffed at the bottom from the walk.

Tomorrow she would wish for a real occasion to wear the dress, more dresses like it, neatly pinned hair and poise in those Fifth Avenue department stores, and he would promise himself again that he was going to get the job, and never drink another can of beer that made his head hurt – but tonight, she was his, flushed skin and bright glowing eyes.

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