The missing pixel on my Google Pixel is a lime-lit reminder each time I swipe by it of potential electrocution; a retribution for my dumb brush with inconvenience, a rash morning rush grievance, when my cellphone somersaulted six feet down, slipped cleanly out of my sweaty, caffeinated, manicured hand and splat screen down on the subway track’s wooden slats as I gasped and grasped at air, at passersby, my pencil skirt too tight, the platform too high and the train in sight, its headlights oncoming and me blubbering, flailing and flubbing for firm footing, or a helping hand, when right then a man (whose next move I’ll never understand) dropped his brown knees and brown boots and brown hands into the ground, as curious heads glowered down and he teetered in the center track, feet neat, and retrieved my phone in one reach. My phone, with its crack-proof case and candy heart paint was unscathed, but his knees were scraped: knobby and pebbly and bloodied and metally, and I took stock of his blue collar look, so doled out ten dollars for risking shock, for being my shining white but not white knight; and I, frazzled and fraught with white guilt, in the fluorescent light as the subway’s doors opened wide, said “thank you” (implied: this phone is my life) and he said, “it’s aight” and inquired if the phone was, indeed, alright, then showed me the lines that spiderwebbed his own, and I said something hollow like, “I know how that goes.” We rode the same car in silence – me standing, him sitting – and I fragmented my frizz with my fingers in a futile, feverish fiddling to avoid his gaze, his buzzed scalp, his sick-of-this-shit daze, his hazel eyes locked on his paint-splattered palms or maybe lost in the ways we volley our days and play mental race games on this voyage, walled in by the years of violence, hung heavy and layered in the balance like an invisible valence that suffocates his stubbled throat with stale, stagnant subway air until it stirs to a stop at my station, where I padded his shoulder in gratitude, a microaggression I’m reminded of each time I thumb the microabrasion on my phone.
A stoop is a stoop to rest your new chunky heels, even when no one cares to notice them. Even when the restaurant it belonged to (where you both enjoyed lambics and lobster once) is papered in the windows. Even when its cement is pockmarked and narrow and familiar, but you’re sans a warm Hurricane on a warmer summer night. Even when you tip your feet to the crescent moon like a bored child, not because they hurt (for the first time) but because you wish to slouch, to recoil yourself invisible in the black and amber lamplight from the group of gentrifiers sashaying the crosswalk in clean clothes cut from caddyshack daddies and Main Line mommies.
A backseat is a backseat to rest your new beaded necklace and beaded back sweat, even when you know the Uber driver won’t abduct you and your textured forehead, even though you’re now skinny, just in time for the end of hot girl summer. Even when no pleasantries (the ones you used to hate) are exchanged, and you take it personally. Even when he pulls over too early, and you object, and he reminds you, “The street is closed.” Even when the corner of 15th and Sansom is stagnant sewer steam and sad sidewalk day drunks turned to night drunks.
A bar stool is a bar stool to rest your new corduroy skirt, even when it reeks of urine. Even though they replaced the women’s toilet with something tacky and pearly and plasticky, but your thighs were anticipating “the usual” stained, but sturdy ceramic. Even when you forget “the usual” drink order (yours, or his.) Even when you order one more of this new usual, and you know the guy next to you won’t drop something in your drink, but you and your aging hand cover it anyway. Even when your friend doesn’t show and you have work in the morning – work you’re not prepared for – and you forget how to commute, which buses to which subway cars to which new overpriced lunchfare, now that “the usual” is gone.
A front porch is a front porch, even when a cat chose to lay down and die on it this afternoon, its mouth agape, teeth gnarled, tabby fur flattened, fooling the family into thinking it was the family cat. Even when after the panic, it was a false alarm: “It’s just the stray, everyone!” Even though it did look eerily similar, but different, an unshakable alternate reality where it just wanted to rest its newly old head somewhere it could call home.
If the mass (m.) of 1 cart in an indoor Himalayan ride containing 2 lovers is approximately 350 pounds of happy weight and traveling at the velocity (v.)of the kind of life that comes with dual expendable income and no kids – and those lovers sit as close to the center of the ride as they were from almost coming out the other side of a global pandemic unscathed (the radius (r.)), what is the centripetal force (Fc)? For how long will the force keep their bodies tangled together at the cushiony inward point?
Now, say the nameless and faceless ride operator yanks the lever into reverse at a nauseating halt. How fast does the centrifugal force(F.) send them flailing into the sharp metal bars on the false exit doors opposite them? At which point is the moment of inertia (I.): when the change of direction occurs, or everything that follows?
Please remember to weigh the following external factors when calculating your equation:
How many other people are on this ride and what is their total weight? Does each cart carry that weight respectively, or collectively as a whole?
Using the formula for momentum (p.), explain how the ride is able to maintain top speed as a steadfast, dizzying orbital center, even after the ride is over. Is it because the lovers caught a drift off the coattails of whoever is in front of them? Or is it the other way around? Who’s spearheading this backdraft of love and loss and grief?
Were the seat buckles, as suspected, a false sense of security all this time? And why don’t these exit doors open?
Is it blinding dark in there, save for the strobe lights that shadow the lovers’ facial angles glitchy and unrecognizable, a foreboding guised as fun? Is this fun?
Explain why centripetalforce is real and centrifugal force is fake, and how the lovers can’t distinguish the difference.
They weren’t the first words I spoke to Stephen, but they were the first marinated in mustering up the courage to ask him out and bump uglies already. We were seated in the back of Mr. Duffy’s classroom, me having just royally failed my senior AP History midterm, due largely in part to already being accepted into art school and also because I was distracted by my first real, bawling-in-my-car-outside-Kenny’s-house teenage breakup. I had turned 180 in my seat to face him and breathily proposition an afternoon date: You. Me. Voracious ripping of meat from bone. Red hot smacking of lips. Guys like girls who can eat, I read in a Cosmopolitan once and had inferred from those “didn’t age well” mid-2000’s burger & beer commercials starring chesty bottle blondes and a firehose, inexplicably.
“That was the fun of the unknown, after all, the anticipatory ‘What if?'”
The name of the store was “Possibilities,” which I frequented with my friend at the time, Kara, the only Pisces in my life I’ve ever befriended. It sat next to a therapist’s office right off Pittston Avenue in Scranton, a therapist I visited only once at my mother’s urging after my parents divorced, but that’s not what this is about (although the timing of traumatic childhood event and thinking I was a witch pairs nicely, like spicy red wine and a good cut of meat.)
“When I see children, I feel nothing. I have no maternal instinct…I ovulate sand.”
To say I don’t like children is an understatement. As my boyfriend so aptly put it when explaining to friends, “You know that face you make when you take a sip of water and find out it’s vodka? That’s her face around kids.”