Your Evening Freewrite — 2/

Vincent, at that moment, felt a sudden sense of history to this mysterious woman. He couldn’t pinpoint a time in the past, had no recollection of the present. Still, the electricity of familiarity vibrated in the space between their bodies in the encroaching dusk. There was no denying the sensation. Perhaps the spirit came from something in her face, the curl of her wrists, or in the sharpness of her tone that brought this feeling. Vincent scanned the sharp angles of her brow and chin, straining to take the physical to recall it in memory. Nothing. All Vincent saw was focus and will. Her charcoal hair and luminous amber skin glowed like the bark of a tree awash in sunlight. She was a series of qualities Vincent wanted to chase and simultaneously escape from the fear of this mystery.

“You look like a little boy right now,” she said. “Lost in a great big world.”

Vincent did not reply.

There was a warm, giddy tension between them. Maybe it was in the way she swayed back and forth or how Vincent felt like he was stealing glances at her rather than straight on. It made Vincent feel young. Lately, he had been feeling nothing but old. Time weighed down on him like a fog that never allowed the sun to breakthrough.

Vincent was about to answer her question when he remembered she had not responded to his.

“You didn’t answer me from before,” Vincent stated firmly.

“I didn’t know I was obligated to.”

“I thought that’s…” Vincent’s throat clenched and ran dry. Assumptions were always getting him in trouble.

“I agree,” she answered, seeing the embarrassment crease the edges of Vincent’s eyes. “The present is the only thing we have and do not have.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Being present 24 hours a day, seven days a week is an exhausting, trying thing to do, is it not?”

“Yes, I would agree with that.”

“And being present for whatever reason, be it socially, romantically, professionally, etcetera could all be for one’s future. Everyone orders everyone to be present, but that’s really for happiness, appreciation, and humility connected to one’s personal goals.”

“I do believe one is present for those reasons, but sometimes, and I speak for myself, I wish to lay back and let the sun burn my skin and the clouds to blanket me, chilling me, so to remind myself of my placement on this planet and the dual effects I have on my surroundings.”

“Dual effects?” she asked.

“Miniscule and tremendous. We will never know how much we affect the world. For example.”

Vincent paused when he saw her eyes pinch into a curious glare.

“You are very talkative,” she said bluntly. “I could tell from the way you looked up at this cathedral all by yourself, lost in thought or lack thereof, that you were a talker. I’ve always been able to tell the talkers from the non-talkers.”

“And that’s why you started talking to me? It wasn’t my looks?”

She smiled, and Vincent blushed, and they stood there like that for as long as time allowed it.

Vincent, hateful of long silences — proving her point — cleared his throat.

“Well, I am so talkative because you have made me so.”

“Are you mad?”

“No. In what way do you mean? No.”

“Are you angry?” She clarified.

“Not in the least bit,” Vincent returned, unsure whether he was lying to her because she didn’t want to offend and scare her off or because she was so stunning or both.

The truth in attraction is always muddy.

“Well, I am glad that I can do that to you.” She looked back up at the church bells, trying to hide her self-satisfied smile.

Vincent took a slight step toward her, stutter-stepping when she began to speak. He could sense she used her voice for a variety of things, one being potential come on’s. It was one of her most vital qualities.

“I have said too much. Let us both gaze at the cathedral for a bit in silence, ok?”

“That sounds good,” Vincent said.

She let her head and hair fall back. Vincent felt like a strong drink, but she needed the sky, the cathedral, the city. Vincent thought he could only give her his company, unsure whether she wanted it or not. Vincent shifted his glance from the bell tower and turned. There, he saw a wooden trolley up against the far wall near a shimmering fountain with wooden puppets hanging from their thin exact strings, swaying back and forth. The light from the oiled lampposts was dark orange and cast shadows of small, dangling bodies along the walls that surrounded the square. He felt as if they were posing for the night.

“We strive to be present to stand firm on moral ground for a better future for the world, yes?” Vincent heard her ask him.

“I hope so,” Vincent said, leaving his gaze on the square.

He emphasized the word hope.

Mitchell Duran is a writer of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. He has been published in Black Horse Review, Drunk Monkey, The Millions, BrokeAssStuart, and more. He lives in San Francisco, California. Find more work at Mitchellduran.com

Mitchell Duran is a freelance writer. He earned a Master’s in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University in 2019. Find more work at Mitchellduran.com

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