early evening

She stood on the edge of her life. Gripping unto the sand-like time that, nevertheless, was flowing rapidly through her fingers. Her fingers that were also drumming on the table, groping for an idea. Groping for meaning as she sat in the corner of a coffee shop on the intersection of Powell and 6th.

In that moment, her mind looked like a map. There were highways leading to the foreseeable future—and windy roads to unfamiliar places. There were the side streets no one knew about except her, and the little town full of memories only a few visited. Who knows. Maybe she was waiting for a sign. Waiting for someone to tell her where to turn—to tell her which way was the way. And all the while it felt as if she was faced with a massive clock tower counting her down to a destiny she wasn’t allowed to see. She was helpless but determined.

No, there wasn’t some life-changing choice she had to make. She wasn’t dying of some rare disease. She didn’t fall in love. She didn’t lose someone. It was a Tuesday in the early evening, after her 1:30 pm American Literature course. She had just spent the past 45 minutes staring at a blank Word document. It was accosting her with its emptiness. She had been trying to write this essay for a few days now. It was due in a week, and it wasn’t the only item on her plate. She felt the urgency. And yet, every time she clicked a few words onto the screen she didn’t feel as if she were writing about Mary Austen’s short stories. She felt as if she were writing her life. Her words a repeated cry of So What? Where Do I Stand? Life was either full of meaning, or devoid of it. And she was afraid she was going to run out of time before getting to an answer. And at this rate, she was definitely going to run out of time to write this paper.

But she kept pressing on. Suppressing the urge to dive into the unanswerable questions that always swam back and forth in her mind. There was no time. Not now. What was she to do but keep doing what she had to. So she sat. She typed. She finished the first draft of her paper. Sometime later, she walked out of the shop door into the cool night–she paused for a moment. Looked up. Gazed at the vastness of the black, speckled sky. Hoping that one day, she could stop altogether to drink it all in. Make it last, at least a moment more.


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