|David was walking home up the long sloping hill from the train station. He checked his watch and reminded himself that, yes, he had called his wife to tell her he would be late. He had gone out for a few drinks with a colleague, an old friend of his fathers, the man who had given him his first job, straight out of college, in the investment house where he still worked.
The street lamps were on, yet they did not fully illuminate the sidewalk. He walked carefully, looking at his feet, stepping over chunks of concrete heaved up in places by the roots of the mature, spreading trees which formed a dense canopy over his head. He watched the tassels bounce on the top of his ox-blood loafers, the cuff of his dark blue pants bob one half inch above the burnished leather.
When he was halfway between the train station and his house, he glanced up and saw something moving towards him, as if a sliver of a shadow had disengaged itself from the darkness beneath a large oak. He tried to swallow, but a bubble had formed in his throat and saliva pooled in his mouth. He stepped to the side to let the person pass, and tripped on a piece of concrete that had lifted from its place. He struggled to keep his balance, and heard his name spoken.
The woman had stopped and was looking at him. She was wearing a long dark cloak, too heavy for this time of year, with a hood that cast a shadow over her face. He tried to see her face, but the cool, late summer breeze was blowing thin strands of hair the color of a paper bag over her think cheeks and sunken features.
David. She said it again.
Excuse me? he said. Can I help you?
Look, do I know you? He controlled his voice. Im sorry, but I cant seem to place you just now. Have we met before?
You dont remember me, she said.
||David searched the face in front of him, looking between the wisps of hair blowing in the wind, and caught a glimpse of light bluish grey eyes, the color of a sky getting ready to snow. Her lips wee two thin, hard lines, her nose a small swelling between the jutting edges of her cheekbones. Her skin was a pale glow, like the lamp across the street. David felt the firm concrete under his toes, but the heels of his shoes were sinking into the soft lawn edging the sidewalk. He wanted to step forward, to stand fully on the hard ground, but didnt want to close the space between them. He shifted his weight to his toes.
A few years ago, at that concert, she said. Up in Saratoga.
A different woman flashed in Davids mind, similar to the one in front of him, but with brighter, shinier hair, darker colored eyes, and fuller cheeks, the bones touched with a slight sunburn. He and a few of his buddies from college had taken a long weekend off from jobs given them by their fathers friends or their friends fathers, from planning weddings with their fiancees, and from looking for houses, to go together to an enormous concert in Saratoga Springs.
David had left his friends encamped on the lawn and gone to get a few beers. While standing in line, he had noticed a pretty woman behind him; pretty even, he had thought, without makeup or a hairstyle. He had started talking to her and watched her thin lips part into a full smile and her eyes, an odd shade of grayish blue, shift almost imperceptibly with some emotion that was different, more complex, than the one she outwardly expressed.
He and she had wandered the grounds of the park together before settling in a small patch of lawn, away from the crowds. They had shared his beers and half a joint she had pulled from the pocket of her long, gauzy skirt. He remembered the unfamiliar, fuzzy, happy feeling the pot had given him. It was a drug he rarely consumed, confining himself, like his friends, to beer and whiskey.