Slips Away


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Jamal H. Goodwin Jr. is an undergraduate English major at Temple University. While he finds plot and character enjoyable, he believes the potency of a story is indicated by its prose. Find more of him  [+]

Image of 2019

His wrists were curled onto the banister. They were weightless, a draped towel. The fluff of his palms connected with the cold metal. Despite this, hot sweat still formed on his fingertips. The fingers themselves were motionless, stale like an uneaten pretzel. They couldn’t move even if he wanted them to... He wanted them to. On both wrists his pulse pounded porcupines. He could grab the railing with his bare fingers, but after being motionless so long he feared they’d snap like frozen carrots. Had his wrists not been holding the banister, he surely would have leaned forward too far, falling four floors to his doom.

 

A pink sunset. Orange clouds, only a few, dotting an azure sky. From the roof he could still smell honey from the garden. The scent of tall uncut grass tickled his nostrils. He didn’t know it, but he was scowling. His forehead had relaxed into a folded, wrinkled position.

 

Nostalgia was his least favorite emotion. That’s why he was so dour in this moment. It felt like it could have been yesterday. There were no words in his memory. Only images and sensations. Two floors below in this very building, a large storage area. A giant flat cube, with smaller flat cubes in it. Each in a different color. An old iPhone on a table hooked up to speakers. A group, about a dozen, and himself, dancing. Fast. Stomping on those cubes, trailing off onto the concrete floor. A girl. Gentle fingers, clay that molded perfectly into his. She led him upstairs.

 

He could see her well now. Jet black hair that shot straight down from her head and stopped at the small of her back. Glistening off her hair was the pink light of the sun. She wore jeans and a loose cream white sweater. Along the sleeves were patterned bunnies. She smiled wide, an invitation to ask her anything. He glanced at her earth brown skin. It radiated a warm aura. He could feel it, even from the short distance that separated them. This moment, he thought, was the perfect opportunity. To say something. Anything. What to ask her? He found himself staring at her eyes longer than he had realized. She looked puzzled. Perhaps he was not aware that he was quivering, so when he attempted to ask her what he wanted to ask her, she simply laughed him off. Or was she laughing with him? She must have expected him to say something, because he was silent for a long time and he can vividly remember watching her smile melt away. After that, all he could remember was that she left.

 

He wished they’d stayed in the dark. There, they were equal. There, he felt self-worth.

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