Jesse Jarnow

winter & the smelless girl, no. 2

“Her Grandmother’s Gift” – Yo La Tengo (download) (buy)

(Sporadic fiction.)

Winter & the Smelless Girl: no. 1, no. 2

There are many urban economies, preying on tourists being only one. The afternoon I was first approached, I participated in several. I had just gotten back to the city, and had errands to run. I bought from the gray market, purchasing new headphones at a dubious electronics chop shop on 14th Street, and spent local, eating pizza from a dingy slice stand. I was returning from my black market acquisition — some Ritalin from a friend of a former co-worker — when it happened.

The afternoon was bright, and the snow made even the dingiest car hoods blindingly luminescent. I squinted into the avenue ahead, searching for the subway entrance, and brushed past the man without looking. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his sunglasses drop. “Sorry,” I called, spotting the stairs. He followed me. “These are scratched,” he said. “I’m sorry,” I said again. In a minute, the encounter was over.

In bed that night, I fretted: what if I had scratched the man’s pair of $70 sunglasses. I buried my head in the pillow the smelless girl had slept on 24 hours previous. It was worse than a void, but like lucid daylight cast onto my thoughts when I craved the free-associative release of sleep. The next morning, I woke repeatedly before my alarm.

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