A cab stops. It’s warm inside, a nice contrast to the sharp coldness of the street; it smells like mint and slightly like cigarettes. She hates the smell of cigarettes, but today she is in such a rush that she barely notices it. The driver asks where to, she tells him the address. Outside, people pass by not nearly slow enough to really see their faces, each so strange and often beautiful in their own way. She isn’t paying much attention, anyway. A young girl running in ballet clothes, her mother following her with a stroller; an old couple with grocery bags holding hands; an unusually tall boy in a school uniform reading by the bus stop; a young woman in a sequin dress and messy hair leaving a building, so pretty for a Monday; so many others her eye couldn’t catch in between checking the rout and answering texts and sanding her nails.
Then the song changes.
And everything stops.
The nail file falls on top of her leather bag. Texts keep coming, no answer. She’s staring at the street still, but no longer checking the route; all she sees are honey colored eyes. The smell of mint and cigarettes is gone, and the car and the driver are gone, and the people out there freeze, as if the world is just her and the song. She is twenty-three years younger, back in that wedding venue on the other side of town, where everything smells of peonies and fancy food and wine. She slips out of her skirt and suit and her mother’s pearl necklace into the sleeveless A-line white dress that flows around the room and the necklace she loved and lost a few years back, and that song is playing again.
It’s their first dance, and they’re flying, in perfect synchrony, like their bodies are one and anything is ever going to change. She’s staring into his honey eyes, and that song is playing, and this might be as happy as someone can physically, chemically, biologically be.
And then the song ends.
The girl in ballet clothes runs, the stroller rolls, her mother dries a drop of sweat falling from her forehead. The couple drops a bag, the boy turns a page, and she’s almost at work. She feels the weight of that pearl necklace on her neck and the car smells of mint and slightly of cigarettes.
And a part of her, of course and as always, is still dancing on that October night, on the other side of town, back when forever lasted.
But she’s almost at work, and she needs to answer the texts, and her nails aren’t perfect yet, and the smell of mint and cigarettes reminds her of something sweet though she’s not sure what, and the people out there are moving and awake and alive, and life keeps going.
And another song starts.