Geri Gale


An acidity of dismay squatted over the city. Polluted beauty that the march of human progress left in its wake brooded. The faint troubled night sky and the sudden trill of a cry in the distance kept her seated on the bench at the bus stop. She rubbed her earlobe with her thumb and index finger. She was certain life less horrible lay a little farther on. Her eyes divined her destination. She felt an emotional outburst coming and she squeezed her eyes tight as she had closed them as a child when she listened to bedtime stories—myths persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic—that her mother had told her to quell the insomnia and bring on the sensation of dream.

She moved toward the right, away from the stranger who sat beside her. She was in desperate need of a new autobiography. New blue notes. New quartertones. The musculature of her body ached with the excesses of evening, the echoes of Saturday-night fantasy. In a confidential voice she told herself the bus would come and she would step onto the bus as she had always stepped from one place to another leaving a part of herself in the past. She looked down at the dainty hands of the woman sitting beside her and fancied her identity as a ballerina who danced and leapt across the stage in a stream of rehearsed and memorized flight.

A long buried smile spread and she ran her fingers through the curls in her hair, combing the bus to come. A painful juncture between the desire to walk and the desire to sit and wait, the minutes passed with no physical movement and a merciful torpor caressed her skin, as if a hand swept down from above and brushed her cheeks in that touch of comfort reminiscent of days long gone. She thought of the plankton in the ocean, first male but as it grew older it turned female.

More minutes passed and an anesthesia, a complete surrender to the night hatched out a thought never thought of before, perhaps tonight during the shortest December day of the year the bus might not come. The realm of her thinker’s scope thickened with female pitch, the venom of violence, the earth infected by madmen. Whether the bus came, she would stand up and pardon everything, her autonomous nature and her perfect vision earmarked her for more faces and more strangers, and more clock-hours with more destinations.

She looked up and the only stars she could identify was the Big Dipper, its hook curved liked a luminous question mark. The woman beside her stood from the bench. She watched her dainty hands dangle by her thighs as she walked demurely away from the bus stop. Tights shimmering silver in the night.

“Nothing falls out as we imagine it,” she whispered in a falsetto voice to the fading image of the impatient ballerina leaving her waiting for the bus.

The theatre of time and the applause of indifference unhinged her and the moment came and the desire to wait was gone. She lifted her body from the bench and she walked under the big hook toward home. The city passed and she looked through windows of wonderland glass. “I am a creature in the midst of creatures,” she said to the reflections of her moving body and shapes of its parts that stretched her sex and shed the acid bath of a city knee-deep in dismay.

Meanwhile, her lover lit an almond candle and waited for her to come home and eat an evening meal of winter romance. And the bus driver looked at her wristwatch and turned the same corner ten minutes later than the appointed time of her engineered route. And the ballerina walked into a bar and drank a shot of whiskey to warm her blood and rid her fear before Swan Lake. She unpinned her hair and it fell on her shoulders and she looked in the mirror at her dainty hands spread like a starfish on the varnished bar, her pinkie finger detached and developing into an independent sea star.

Geri Gale lives in Seattle and works as a freelance editor/proofreader to support her creative work.

New Autobiography is a piece from She, a collection of prosepoems told in the voices of women who are faithful and loyal to something or someone or someday.

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