I’m his last appointment for the day.
His meetings ran thirty minutes over, so he asks me to walk and talk instead.
It’s raining outside.
I don’t have an umbrella, but his is big enough for the both of us.
I’ve got long clumsy legs and he’s got a limp, his knee agitated from the rain.
We bump elbows and shoulders casually as we try to find a stride befitting our umbrella and unwieldy gait.
“Tell me what’s on your mind,” he says, as if we began this journey with the intention of gouging our souls of feeling.
I dodge an oncoming umbrella made slick and sinister by the rain.
“I focused on the image of the rose too much. The next thing I knew, I was talking about the degradation of the human condition over the course of time. That’s not where I wanted to end up. I wanted to talk about the purifying powers of fire. I wanted to write of the world in flames,” I confess.
We pass a huddle of the homeless, all trying to protect their blankets from the cold wet.
“What saddens me is that most women never realize how beautiful they are. Some societal thing—I don’t understand it exactly.”
As he’s speaking I catch the eye of a tall Black man, puffing on a blunt as he leans against a building, looking like he knows where to find all the time in the world and then some.
“But what I’m trying to say is that even the beautiful things come from ashes—people burn and they light the world with them. Take this feeling you have, utilize it. Write down what you feel, and don’t edit. Whatever you have to say is important enough to keep. If not for this work, then for life.”
I stare at the smoke billowing from a manhole in the middle of the street as cars run over it, the fog quickly kissing the front of each as they speed by.
The rain makes broken pitter-patter sounds on the roof of his umbrella, the noise unreasonably satisfying.
He looks to me and smiles.
I smile back.
We part ways.