art by M.S. Corley
I'll Leave The Light On
by Patricia Russo
***Editor's Note: Adult language, used judiciously***
The boy throwing rocks at the No Parking sign on Tide Street at around eight p.m. (she'd had to work late, and afterwards had made a detour to a convenience store, and then decided to take this way home--pure chance, nothing but pure chance--if such a thing truly existed) was the first coiler Dahyana had ever seen in the flesh, other than Mrs. Millar. And herself. But then, you never really saw yourself. When she was a child, that boy's age or a little older, Dahyana had spent a stupid amount of time staring into a mirror. Mrs. Millar never stopped her, just nodded and said it was hard, wasn't it? "But where is it?" Dahyana would ask. "You said you saw it."
"Of course I saw it. I saw it the very first time I laid eyes on you. I see it now."
"Then show me. Point to it."
"It's not in one place. Come on, you know that. Do you see it in one place when you look at me?"
Yes, she did. When she looked at Mrs. Millar, Dahyana saw the flicker, the glimmer, the little light, on her chin, right on the spot where there was almost, but not quite, a dimple. Dahyana said so, but Mrs. Millar just laughed.
The boy throwing rocks glowed.
He hurled another rock. It struck the o in the No of the No Parking sign with a mighty clang.
"We recognize each other," Mrs. Millar said, time and again. "How do you think I found you?" But Dahyana had been a baby when Mrs. Millar spotted her. Barely walking. No way to protest, except by wailing. She thought she could remember that, being held tight in Mrs. Millar's arms, and Mrs. Millar running, and herself flailing and crying. Dahyana thought she also remembered shouts behind them, but she couldn't be sure that was a true memory.
This boy was at least ten.
He will recognize me, Dahyana thought, as she walked toward him. Or at least recognize that there is something about us that is the same. And besides, I am not going to snatch him up and run. I'm just going to talk to him.
Just talk. Nothing else.
The boy didn't turn around until Dahyana was less than a meter behind him, and then it was just a quick glance over his shoulder.
"Those are a lot of rocks you've got there," she said. "Where did you get them all?"
He didn't answer. He picked up another rock and held it. He glanced at her again, then back at the sign.
"You dented that thing real good. You mad at this No Parking sign, or something?"
"Must've taken you a long time to collect all those rocks."
"I got them from the park."
"Sure. That makes sense. Best place to find rocks around here, I guess."
"Fuck off, lady."
"Okay," Dahyana said. "But first I want you to turn around and look at me. Can you do that? Just for a minute."
"Just for a second."
The boy turned, and threw the rock he was holding at her head.