Surrealism Outside the FramebyMagicaPractica©
George pushed through the glass doors at the front of the office building and pulled his coat tighter as the cold bit at him. He hurried down the steps, skidded on a patch of ice and righted himself. He followed the stone retaining wall fifty feet from the entrance of the building. All just to get a cigarette in, on one of the coldest evenings of the year. He only got fifteen minutes and it took five minutes just to get down from the third floor and out of the building.
He took off his gloves for a moment and his fingers shook as he lit a match but as soon as he'd gotten a lung full of smoke, the gloves went back on. He really intended to quit smoking, but not until the holidays were over. Dealing with his family was not conducive to giving up a habit that aided in relaxation.
Across the city street, shoppers hustled in and out of the small stores. He swore under his breath. Only two days until Christmas and he still had shopping to do. God, he hated Christmas. He ran down the list of people he needed to buy for in his head; Aunt Rhoda, Mom, Dad, his brother Jeff, his niece Jennifer, his sister-in-law. The list went on.
Footsteps approached on George's side of the street. That was unusual so he looked up. A lovely girl with long, straight blond hair wearing a bright blue crocheted cap with a pom-pom on top approached George. She smiled as she walked past and then sat down on the stone wall just a couple feet away.
"Could I borrow a light?" she asked.
George obligingly pulled out his matchbook but as he handed it over, she didn't produce a cigarette. Instead, from the pocket of her old-fashioned black and white tweed coat, she pulled a small square stained glass candle holder in deep cobalt blue with bottle green dragonflies and creamy pink lotus blooms. She set it on the wall between them, struck a match and lit the small candle inside. She handed him the matchbook and sat back with a content sigh, looking across the street.
Puzzled, George couldn't help stealing glances at her. What on Earth was she doing?
Catching of his looks, the girl smiled again and gestured across the street. "My Wednesday night movie."
This only mystified George further. No one would come out here in this weather just to sit and watch people go by. Would they? Was she waiting for someone? A ride? Was she homeless? She could be living in a shelter. She spoke again, interrupting George's thought process.
"What?" George asked.
"I don't know. Just... Birnbaum."
George thought about it for a minute. It sounded like a name. "Why?"
She shook her head and shrugged. "Seriously, I don't know. It happens to me all the time. My brain just pops up a word. Just now it was Birnbaum."
"It sounds like a name," George ventured. Definitely a possibility she was a little loopy.
"Yes, it does, doesn't it? Hey! It's lottery ticket aunt!"
George followed her gaze across the street and was surprised to recognize who she was talking about right off the bat. An elderly lady with fluffy hair in a long red coat was scratching at a lottery ticket as she walked along. "Is she your aunt?"
"No, she just makes me think she must be someone's aunt, and she's always buying those scratch off lottery tickets. But I can just picture her in so many different places. Something in her cries out for a distant time and I'm just sure she's lived before. Maybe she was in the crowd that lined the street as Jesus passed on the way to his own death, or I can see her as a southern belle in Virginia just before the civil war."
George could see the southern belle bit. She did look kind of elegant, but where did she get the bit about Jesus?
"Check out the beatnik," she said.
Again, George could tell exactly who she was referring to. A tall young man with light brown dreadlocks and a scraggly beard, wearing a brown coat that was too tight and pants too short loped along the sidewalk.
"Cool, man. The cat speaks to me in his throaty warble, halfway between a meow and a purr." The girl laughed delightedly. "Can't you just hear him?"
George crooked a smile. He could. He took a last drag on the cigarette butt and lit a new one, scanning the shoppers with interest now.
"Ah, that's sad."
George looked but he didn't know what to look for this time. "What?"
"The young woman in the knee length light brown skirt and the pink jacket."
George looked. There she was, rather nondescript, but very thin and terribly neat. As he watched, she stumbled a little and pain creased her face. She took a breath, straightened and moved on.
"Three reasons I don't kill myself," she intoned sadly. "There is value in suffering, I have the chance to make life better for someone else, and things can change."
George watched the young woman until she was out of sight. What was her real story? He hoped she would be alright. He returned his gaze to the people opposite them.
A group of young girls tumbled out of a Chinese restaurant, breaking open fortune cookies. The girl with long black hair stopped, looked at her fortune incredulously and then threw her head back and laughed loudly.
"A message from the universe," George's companion murmured.
George snorted. "What kind of universe speaks to you through fortune cookies?"
"Only to those who'll listen," she said defensively. "Red glasses."
George quickly scanned the people passing by opposite. A young black woman wearing red glasses pulled a child along by his hand. She was shaking her head, clearly trying not to smile.
"You are an evil little child, she said without venom."
A young man walking in the other direction passed the young mother and son then abruptly stopped and whipped out a notebook.
"The time for creating comes upon you and your perceptions change. Like walking a country road at dusk. Everything is hazy but clear. Your fingers ache to put pen to paper for fear that you will lose your vision before you can contain it."
George looked at her. Was that it? Was she a writer? He opened his mouth to speak but a cry yanked at him.
"George! What the hell are you doing? Get your ass in here! The meeting starts in three minutes!"
"Shit!" George looked at his watch. He's been sitting there for twenty minutes.
"It was nice visiting with you," George said as he stood up. "I'm George, by the way."
"I kind of figured," she said, looking at his irate co-worker standing in the doorway. "You'd better hurry."
George nodded and dashed up the sidewalk. He looked back and she was still sitting there. She waved her fingers and he raised a hand.
George took the stairs to the third floor and grabbed his portfolio for the meeting. In the conference room, there was one seat by the window. He paused to look out, but she was gone. He could see a small speck of light in the shadows though. The candle holder was still there and lit. How odd.