Comets Across the Sky
Song and Story
* Changing the Light
by Cathleen O'Connor Schoultz
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I saw my soft, red leather glove, lying on the top step outside the garden. Cherry red. Soft. Feminine. I leaned down to pick it up like Ingrid Bergman, crouched, ankles together, legs folded up, pulling my skirt tight.

The colored leaves were orange and yellow, small and large, most fraying on the edges. Someone was crunching them underfoot somewhere. I will always remember now, I thought, making my way to this class. And I won't quit smoking just yet. Everything else is too perfect.

I picked up the red form, scraping the cement slightly, watching my hand for a moment, and unfolding myself. A straight wool skirt touched my lower calf; I could feel the kick pleat above the back of my pumps. I click, click, clicked over to the table in the garden.

"Could I have a hot tea, please?" (with my cigarette). The strong black tea smelled like my father, who was coming in a week. When it was steeped, I poured it first and then took out a Marlboro Light. In and out, blow on the tea, sip, inhale.

4:40 p.m. This was the perfect moment, the October sun just right and I saw him, my teacher, my inspiration, big and in a suit, vulnerable. Imagine here in Boston and successful and not a yuppie. From Chicago -- I think I saw his car once with Illinois plates. He walked and smoked a quick one before class, entering Newbury Street. I could see his reflection in the window of the dress store, Abigail's. I will always remember this day, I thought, blowing and sipping, and feeling that my lips were pretty.

October Dawn
"October Dawn" by Patse Hemsley

His eyes were gray green, and there was pain in the way he held his hands, just like Joe's, I thought. I wish he'd meet me after class, I told our couples' therapist. It's my fantasy. Others are interesting, and I'm tempted. But only because they're new, I think. And because you never come out, I exhaled to Joe, afraid of his reaction, but wanting to warn him.

It's almost night, and I imagine you coming to meet me after class. I see your face and your eyes look alive. My class is on Newbury Street, in case you're interested. "What's that supposed to mean?" my husband asks.

I will never forget this day, dusk almost here at 4:45, windy, leaves scattering on Newbury Street around my pumps. Time for class. I had to be early. I was too shaky to walk in late, too fragile, too alive. I headed down the far right row, took a seat in the middle, and looked down at my open notebook.

Cathleen O'Connor Schoultz is a fiction, feature and advertising writer in Arlington, Va.

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A Parent by Any Name | Changing the Light
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