Kevin Tosca

The Color of Commitment

               Blue like that ethereal, otherworldly, Odilon Redon blue.
               Like the blue of the balloon heading in the same direction, my direction, nearing the intersection and the killers.
               It paid them and the light—red and not at all reminiscent of Lamorisse—no mind.
               No way, I thought, does it make it.
               But it crossed the first two lanes with an effortless grace, an inexplicable buoyancy (there was zero wind), paused—posed?—on the median, then crossed the second two lanes.
               The lights were still red and vicious like an early cheek of Matisse, like one of Turner’s seas, so the balloon skirted the bicycle lane and waited, seemed to be waiting.
               A bicycler with a boy in his lap couldn’t help himself, gave the balloon a gentle punt.
               It pirouetted.
               The lights turned a carcinogenic, Toulouse-Lautrec green that allowed me to cross both lanes. As I did, the balloon surged, doubled back, spun in circles, spun closer and then spun away. It was dancing. It was flirting.
               It was dancing and flirting with me.
               I thought about stopping even though I never stopped on my way to work, not on Sunday morning because Sunday mornings were not meant for work.
               They were meant for friends and family, were yellow like Van Gogh’s bed, like his fields and flowers and suns: hopeful.
               And heartbreaking.
               I thought about bending down and picking up that balloon because that’s what it wanted: my interest and my attention. A friend and family.
               I thought about walking into work with that balloon tucked under my arm, keeping it safe in my locker, bringing it home, getting to know it, loving it.
               These thoughts, yes, they were as pink and ridiculous as a billion Warhol Elvises, yet that damn balloon was still there, still coy and insistent and blue, still a question mark, perhaps the most important one, the one I had been avoiding.
               I walked faster, put it behind me, tried to put it behind me, but I did look back because we always look back, and I saw it dancing closer to the curb and the killers, saw it leaping, dancing, closer while I walked and walked and walked away.
               I heard two distinct marks of punctuation, heard the sound and the sense, my dead father the latter, the word I once used to address him.
               Memories exploded.
               Regrets surfaced and bobbed like wasted bodies on the turbulent and terribly banal waves of the past.
               The violence slowed, but it did not stop me.
               I worked my shift. The shift, like all shifts, was gold like Ingres, like Napoleon and all the other golden idiots.
               On my way back to the subway that would take me home, at the square turned circus teeming with colorful, depressing, preposterous life, I searched for the traces, the blue corpse, the beginning of an answer.
               Saw nothing but hungry children who wanted my interest and my attention, who longed for more friends and family, but who were, nevertheless, odd, sadistic little creatures, black like Goya’s gods, dense like my noncommittal heart.

Kevin Tosca lives in Canada. Find him at kevintosca.com.
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