You’re the jogger right?
Talia stopped walking. She read the sentence again. Something
seemed to be cracking inside her. There was a bench in front of Momo’s
restaurant, and she went to it, waiting for the awful cracking to subside.
Yes she typed back. But I’m better now.
She stared with surprise at her words.
Carla buzzed right back. Glad your okay.
Talia began to weep. Because it was so wearying, always having to
steel oneself against awfulness. Pierre D. Pierre’s bogus divination was
right: She feared the future and her fate, even as these small warm gestures, like benevolent spirits, seemed to point toward some other, shimmering world.
She tried to stop her weeping. She wished Gordie would message her
back. There was one night when she had done a goofy impersonation of
Neil D’Amato roaring around in the Post Office van, and Gordie had
laughed—real laughter, so hard his cheeks turned pink.
She wiped her eyes and texted him.
Would love to see you.
Meet in front of Momo’s?
His response came, as usual, instantaneously. That little thumbs-up
sign. As the scent of frying oil wafted from Momo’s, Talia watched the
afternoon glare stretch the clouds into brilliant streaks of pink and
waited for Gordie.
They went together to the beauty shop, where a skinny woman in an
incredibly tight sweater was stacking squat little jars of pomade on a dis-
play. Talia began her story, then stopped. With Gordie beside her, she re-
phrased: “I was jogging by the other day and had a medical emergency.”
The woman placed the jar of pomade back on the cart and regarded
her. “Is you?”
“Is me!” She didn’t mean to shout.
“Wait, you wait here.” The woman hurried to the back of the shop.
“Lina! Lina! Es ella, la negrita!”
Talia turned to Gordie. “Did she just say—”
“Lina! Está aquí la negrita, del otro día!”
Gordie said, “I think it’s a linguistic thing.”
A short, plump woman with platinum hair was hurrying out. Seeing
Talia, she stopped. The expression on her face was one of terror.