The sound of the breeze rippling across the surface of the water interrupted my inner monologue. I padded across the wooden sidewalk and dropped my feet into the water, resting my arms on the railing, and my heavy head on my arms. It had been hard to find this small, secluded park, but once I had, it became my favorite hoop spot. The small lake was certainly a pond by Michigander standards, but it reminded me of home. When the wind blew right it smelled almost like humidity existed, but most of all I came here for this spot.
The wooden sidewalk was built out across a smaller section of the water which was protected by a metal railing. On the edge of the wood where it met the grass was a bench, and around most of this side of the water there were mature oaks and maple trees. There were almost enough to shake and whisper like the woods had every autumn before the city. The water was still warm from the heavy warm sunshine of the day, warming my chilled feet as I inhaled nicotine and stilled. All day I had pushed down the frantic crazy that threatened to break through, but as I thought of home it stilled. Like the hoop that had fallen from my grasp and rolled into the grass behind the bench, my emotional response to the upheaval in my life had momentarily stopped.
The loss of the foundation of my life that I had built over a decade had shaken me to my core. Long in coming, the third go-around, it had still surprised me. It had only been a week since I had returned to silence, all of his things missing from his half of our hotel room. It was that silence that lasted days, the emptiness of not knowing, that hurt the most. After so long the sound he brought with him had colored things, and everything else was bland without him. His absence had hurt far more than the verbal confirmation he gave over the phone, earlier today. As he spoke quietly, calmly even, yet occasionally tripping over his words, I wondered if that had been why he had chosen to call now, after a week. Was he afraid to see my face; the range of expression that it was certain to reveal? Silence had been my life, and I had wrapped it around my heart well, but he knew all its signs. What do you do when the only person you want to tell about your day walks out of your life without a word?
I stayed in our room for as long as I could afford to. In case he came back. I left the television on all day while I was gone, and never turned it off, trying to fill the void. The evening guy that worked the desk had only asked about his absence once. I fancied that night that he had seen through my silence, seen in my eyes that I was spinning out of control, like a hoop that had been just out of reach. It was the end of the week though, and I had run out of money. The water lapped against my ankles and I flicked away the butt of my cigarette.
Padding over to my hoop, I sighed heavily and wiped my eyes, leaving a trail of wet footprints glistening in the moonlight. I inhaled deeply as I put in headphones and hit “play.”