Tuna Fish


Light a cigarette and close your eyes. An hourglass of ash should be enough time. I only want that much more. Just 7 minutes. I exhale through my nose, the smoke whipping like white flags in the wind. My black wingtips with the untied laces spread their namesakes and catch the crisp serrated air along the ledge. A pigeon perches next to me. Pigeons don't have to do spreadsheets, they just have to spread wings. The roof is covered in white blotches made by him and his friends, but it isn't much to complain about; shit on a building that is a monolith of it.


6 minutes. My shirt has a coffee stain and the side of my writing hand is saturated in ball point ink. My tie dances in the wind, the flag of an autonomy that is dissolving with each tar-infused puff. I wonder who will take my desk. The only difference between a desk job and slavery is slaves don't interview for their chains. I wonder if anyone will see the smoke signals I'm sending up, I wonder if I want them to.


5 minutes. I only have a few minutes left on my lunch break and I'm still scared about being late. Well, they can have my tuna fish sandwich. My foot slips from the ledge, sending chunks chipping off, kicked like a bad habit into the brisk air. One foot inside the door, one foot out. With just a breeze a decision could turn into an accident…and the weather vane is spinning like a top in a blender. My thoughts are racing, leaving tire marks on the inside of my skull.

4 minutes. My toes press against my sole to curl around the ledge, I look down. I swear the gravel of the parking lot looks like gates, to hell or heaven… I don't care. I start to make a list in my head. I can't think of a single person who would miss me. My dog doesn't even like me. The sharp fall wind stings the bloody, bare-teethed “kisses” he leaves on my ankles. I wonder who will feed him.


3 minutes. I wonder when tomorrow will stop being today and today will stop being yesterday. No more coffee that tastes like sewage runoff, nights lying waiting for the alarm hoping it never sounds, numbers I stare at but can’t dial. All those old, cold, Chinese take-out dinners…nothing's wrong but nothing's right.


2 minutes. For an instant, I feel like I've already hit the parking lot. My lungs have become air tight and vacuum sealed. My heart has jumped up to where I swear my Adams' apple should be. I can imagine having a mouth full of gravel already.


1 minute. My stomach rumbles, I'm hungry. I step back from the ledge and head back inside. There is always tomorrow, no different than today, and tuna fish is my favorite.


Published at The Foliate Oak