on the second floor veranda, i look out across the courtyard, the pool, and the doors of the other apartments, all baking in the 5 o’clock sun. the sky was overcast all morning, and it seems like the sun is working harder, trying to make up for lost time.
i put on my sunglasses, lay back in the hammock and light a borrowed cigarette. i take a few measured drags to start the cinder and i notice a couple talking across the courtyard. i only hear the chirping of courtyard birds, so the scene is a wordless one. they look like two extras conversing in the background of an office party - pleasant with a bit of flirtation. she stands freely and his hand is on the railing. they share a laugh over something that was said.
my mind wanders. i wonder about the history that led to this conversation and the nature of their relationship. where on the complicated map of male-female interaction does this couple fall?
i close my eyes and take a few drags. i push off the wall to start the hammock and scan the pool and the rest of the courtyard. i count a dozen plastic pool chairs and a bin with the remains of last night’s party.
when i look back to the couple, the mood is changing. her hands are fidgeting with her phone and wallet. his posture is sagging. am i witnessing a break up?
i lift my sunglasses up. he looks at the ground, with his shoulders slumped. she raises her hand to brush something from his cheek and then does the same to the other side.
the smoke curls around my resting hand and i see him lift his fingers to wipe under his glasses. then he removes them altogether. i feel like a voyeur. i stop to think if it’s appropriate to be watching, but something about the scene’s silence makes it like watching film. i see the young man’s shoulders drop with a heavy sob. his head hangs and he begins to weep. my mouth falls open. “shit”
i look away when i realize that my guess was right. my conscience tugs at my shirt again. should i be watching a moment this personal? this sad?
i look back and see her hug him - her arms around his slumped shoulders. he stands for a while with his hands at his sides, his face against her collarbone. eventually his raises his hands and squeezes her back. she rubs her palm on his back, and gazes at something in the distance.
i look down at my cigarette and see a stick of ash.