It was dawn, and I was alone. Alone until you were there, suddenly, at my shoulder.
You passed by me so close, I saw your shadow. I smelled your soap. You were simply walking between the pumps after paying inside, and I know you saw me flinch. A suburban, cocooned, white flinch.
I know you did.
You smiled and said, “Guess we’re the only fools out at this hour.”
“Looks like it,” I replied.
I took a bag of trash out of my car.
“Time to clean up? I need to do that, too,” you said, still smiling.
“I needed to do it about a month ago,” I confessed.
This is what it’s like, I thought. You felt a need to represent. To change perceptions. To keep me from flinching again.
We wished each other a happy new year.
And you drove away, in your shiny new black Lexus, leaving me there in my dirty white used Acura.