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And Then a Wind

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Just before the train emerges from the tunnel comes a breeze that swells into a gust and then a wind. Some mornings it's hot, others cool. Either way, it helps me figure out what kind of day it's going to be. I can feel its first whisper on my face now, flowing from the tunnel and down the channel that soon will be stuffed by a speeding train occupying every square inch between the platform and the far wall. Last week a woman's terrier broke loose and chased a rat down there. A couple of us jumped onto the tracks and got the dog out just before the train burst out of the dark. It was exhilarating and terrifying, that stirring of air.

Like there was something inevitable in it.

But I can't decide whether this morning's breeze is hot or cold because I'm a little distracted just now. There you are, walking towards me. Your dazzling, up-and-coming sales manager smile outshines the train's lights winking in the tunnel behind you. You wave your gloved hand. Like we're friends. Like we have a connection because you work with my wife.

Ah, Kenneth. I think you have no idea. It seems you're unaware that she and I have had, you know, The Talk. About the conference, the hotel bar, the knock on her door later that night, the separate taxis back to the airport. There've been tears. A few rough weeks. Our kids are quiet at the dinner table now.

And in the bedroom it's...well, let's just say it's like you're there and I'm not into threesomes.

The breeze picks up and makes the sweat on my forehead tingle. You call out my name and I marvel at the pure, uncomplicated warmth of your voice as it competes with the surge of possibilities from the tunnel.

I read this morning that police narrowly averted an act of violence in the London Tube. Don't you love that they call it The Tube, Kenneth? That literal Brit whimsy. We just call ours BART. How utterly boring.

We really do need to spice it up somehow.

The gust is now a true rush, the force of it ruffling your long coat and curly blonde hair. Could you be any more handsome? I can see what my wife saw in you. What she still sees when you pass in the hallways or face one another in meetings.

Those broad shoulders block sight of the train as it leaps from the tunnel. You've shifted your briefcase from one hand to the other and you're coming in for the shake, elbow bent, shoulder cocked at that angle. Just so. The way men do.

The wind has become a hurricane. I take your hand firmly in mine, glance down at the tracks. I think of the terrier and the rat.

And the inevitable wind.

Ah, Kenneth, damn our luck. This wind is hot. It is so unbearably hot.





Notes from the Author
I tend to write characters on the verge of something—a revelation, a transition, a loss, an opportunity or threat. In this story, I tried to capture the moment someone stands on the threshold between hope and the void. I once stood on that threshold and, at the last second, saw what life would become if I crossed it. I'd like to think the main character in "And Then A Wind" did as well, but I'm not sure.

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