But no one knew of the incident, so that it began to seem all the
stranger that Talia herself had not witnessed this thing that had happened to her, which someone, some mysterious other, had. At each storefront she felt a growing wariness, as if this mission were some insanity
she had cooked up—even as she tried to assure herself that beneath one
of these awnings, behind one of these doors, were hands that had held
and warmed hers, that had fetched a blanket to drape over her. Someone
would see her and know who she was.
She had come to the block where, on her morning jogs, she always sped
up and kept her gaze straight ahead. A short one—a vacant lot fenced off
for construction and just two buildings, one on either side of the street.
The first was some kind of recording studio, with a faded concert poster
taped inside the window. Talia rang the buzzer three times, but no one
She looked across to the other building. Red brick, with American
flags sticking out all over the place. Each window wore stars-and-stripes
bunting, and above the “VFW Post 19” crest was a hand-painted wooden
sign. all lives matter.
Talia crossed over. The problem, she considered, was that even if they
didn’t see her the way Maxine did, she could guess—what with her yoga
pants and WBUR fundraiser jacket—whom they would see: one of those
bike-riding, latte-drinking, unpatriotic types who used Lyft instead of
taxis and bought fancy donuts and laughed at the local paper.
Talia wanted to explain: I’ve been here twenty years! I helped rebuild
the playground when the hurricane tore it up! I volunteer on Flag Day! I
can’t stand the fancy new donut place!
She also found the new vintage shop exorbitantly priced and the cat
accessories shop vaguely immoral. She hated that the bead store was
now a vape shop—hated electronic cigarettes emitting scents of chocolate and vanilla, hated the men-children who smoked them. She hated
millennials in general.
Well, except for Gordie. Gordie was different. When you asked him
a question, he seemed to really think about it before answering. She
could let down her guard with him, could tell him anything, even her
dark, unattractive thoughts of accumulated disappointments and small,
sharp wounds, her dubiousness about the world in general. Sometimes
she even saw herself as Gordie did: her archaic qualities as exotic quirks,
her clunky stereo system “cool” and her lack of a television or Netflix or