>> Sunday, January 6, 2013 – birds, Boston, Erik Satie, Gymnopedie, love, purple martins, San Francisco
Before I saw him, I heard him.
He was singing. It wasn’t the kind of singing I heard on the T every morning by the teenage girl with the curly gelled hair and pierced nose who defended her territory by daring strangers with her eyes; the type of singing that was never not annoying. He was singing, humming really, because through it he experienced worship. I can’t think of any other way to describe it. The tune was Gymnopedie and the pitch was perfect.When the bell chimed and the fasten seat belt light dimmed I stood up quickly to find the face that belonged to the music. He was two rows up. His smile met my eyes and I looked away. How much can be seen in a split second? Dark shoulder length hair in need of a haircut, three days stubble, hazel eyes, the thick eyelashes of a girl and a purple string tied around his wrist as he tucked his hair behind his ear, a lifetime.
“Young man!” The blue-grey haired lady sitting next to me crowed in a way that implied she had said it several times before I heard it. “Would you help me with my bag?” she asked pointing her gnarled finger above my head. When I reached up to open the bin, I glanced again and saw him walking towards the exit, the music fading.“This one?” I asked impatiently.
The old lady replied affirmatively as I quickly pulled it out and placed it on the seat next to her. She sighed heavily as I stepped out quickly into the aisle attempting to catch up to the music, but it was gone.It’s silly to think of it now, but a type of melancholia covered me like the fog that rolled in from the bay. The interview was a formality. I knew they wanted me for the job, and it was the chance of a lifetime. But I found myself humming Gymnopedie as I stood up and looked out the twenty fourth floor window at the Bay Bridge shrouded in mist. The Human Resources manager abruptly opened the door.
“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to startle you,” she said in a peppy, conciliatory manner.“You didn’t,” I lied. “It’s a beautiful view.”
“It could be yours and the weather certainly beats Boston. You’ll hear from us very soon. I think you’ll be pleased, Erik,” she chirped as she extended her hand.The flight back to Boston left early the next morning. I boarded the plane, sat in my window seat and reflexively pulled out my phone to check messages. There it was. The subject was “Congratulations!” The details of the job-offer surpassed my expectations. “I’m moving to San Francisco,” I whispered, closed my eyes, leaned my head back and went to sleep. “The end,” I said.
“No it’s not!” The boy shouted.“It’s not?” I asked and pulled the blanket up to his chin.
“You came back to Boston, because Martin lived here. Martin saw you on the plane sleeping. He quietly switched seats with the man sitting next to you,” the boy said.“Go on,” I encouraged him and smiled.
“The world became small as the plane flew into the sky. The sun danced with the earth and then Martin started singing.” The boy said.I looked across our son’s bed at Martin, stretched out my arm and tucked a piece of hair behind his ear. He needed a haircut. I gave the boy a kiss on his forehead then whispered “And I traded my future for a song.”
This is a piece of flash fiction.