Sunday, October 31, 2010

Last dance until spring

A falcon sits watchfully above the rooftop satellite. Wires sag under her colossal weight. When the wind blows, the trees rustle, and the bird of prey tightens her grip.

She cocks her head. Looks up at the harvest moon as it meanders through dense clouds. A ray of moonlight extends into the eye of the falcon, bends, refracts, and shoots through the top-floor window of apartment 405.

One side of a woman’s face is lit. A frayed cigarette droops out the shadowed corner of her mouth. She holds a lipstick-lined wineglass and a bottle of red nail polish.

She stares at the moon with sorrowful indifference and then meticulously paints the tips of her fingernails—just tips, only covering the rough edges with a new coat. Concentrating intently, tongue shifts to the corner of her mouth. Lips loosen their grip on the cigarette. It falls to the floor.

The bird tilts her beak to the sky and shrieks twice. The sound reverberates, bouncing off the building exteriors, transforming to a distorted pitch in the narrow spaces between concrete walls. She ascends from her perch, leading with talons. Cuts the moon, glides on the wind and disappears.

The woman runs her freshly glossed nails through hair cut razor-sharp jagged. She shuffles to the window. Her pupils dilate. She stares intently. Flips the light switch off. The moonlight swells, reflecting eerily in the whites of her eyes. Her breath spirals up the windowpane in foggy ringlets and drips down liquid seconds later.

Somewhere a raspy voice whispers. The whisper fades to a hum. The hum is muffled by white noise from a nearby river that gurgles with stubborn constancy.

It’s the beginning of winter. Ice hasn’t yet sealed the ravine. Autumn’s lingering flowers take a bow, wilting elegantly.

It’s their last dance until spring.

The window clicks shut. The curtains close. She sweeps the remains of the evening into a dustpan and folds herself to bed.