A False Spring

by Zach Sims



It was very warm, for February. The sun was out and the gray coldness of the winter had given way, if only briefly, to blue skies and pleasant sunshine.
I was in Philadelphia, in a hotel on Broad Street, fifteenth floor. You could sit on a little ledge there in the room and have windows on all sides of you, except behind you and you could see all around. I sat there with a whiskey and water and I watched the city below me. I watched the cabs go by and the many people out walking, slower in the unexpected warmth. I watched the sun go down behind the buildings and I knew that the next day it would be the cold winter again.
Lisa came in at about two in the morning. It was dark in the room and she didn't turn on the lights. She saw my outline in the window and she jumped.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm just looking."
"At what?"
"The city," I said. "The lights."
She went to the bathroom and I heard the soft click of the door as it shut and I saw the orange light leaking out from the bottom of the door. She came out after a few minutes, in her bedclothes.
"I'm tired," she said.
"Good-night," I said.
"That's it?"
"That's it."
"Are you going to stay there all night?"
"I was thinking I would," I said. "I saw the sun go down. I was thinking it would be nice to see it come up again."
"I'm tired and I am going to bed."
"Good-night."
I looked down at the street and the lights were glowing orange. There were still people out walking but not many. I could see the Kimmel Center all lit up on the inside, under the glass. There was a plane coming in, on the horizon south, at the airport. I wondered where it was coming from.
She got into bed and I heard the hissing sound of the satin sheets against her skin. She wanted me to look at her, but I just looked out at the lights.
There was a couple on top of a parking garage across the street, a girl and a boy. The girl was sitting down on the concrete, the boy was on a skateboard, riding in circles and doing tricks. Ever so often he would skate by the girl and they would talk for a moment and then he would push off in another big circle and do some more tricks. The girl just sat there and watched him, until he came back around to her.
Lisa was quiet but I could tell she was still awake by her breathing.
"What?" I asked.
"Nothing," she said.
"Go to sleep then."
"Why won't you come to bed?"
"I am not tired."
"Are you drunk?"
"Yes," I said. "But who cares."
"I don't care," she said and I heard the hiss again as she rolled away from me.
"Where were you tonight?" I asked.
"You don't care."
"I probably don't"
"I know you don't"
"So where were you?"
"At a place."
"What kind of a place?"
"A place you don't know about," she said.
I heard her sit up in bed. She was looking at me; I could see her reflection in the glass. I didn't look at her.
"You don't care anyway," she said.
"Did you eat?"
"Yes I ate."
"Does he have taste?"
She lay back down in the bed; she let out a tired breath.
"Of course he does."
"Where did he take you?"
"To a Cuban place."
"Very trendy," I said.
"Well it's better than sitting up here and looking out of the window all night."
"Is it?"
"Yes it is."
"Not really." I said.
The couple on the parking garage where both sitting now, on concrete pillars. She was turned facing him now, and he was facing forward. He was talking with his hands and she was nodding and every now and again she would throw her head back and laugh.
"Go to bed," I told Lisa.
"I am going to bed."
"I'm going to sit here all night, until the sun comes up."
"I know you are."
I heard her lay down.
"And then I am going to wait for you to leave in the morning and then I am going to take a nap after you have gone. You should put out the 'do not disturb' sign for me when you leave."
"I will."
"Good," I said. "When you come back would you bring me some food?"
"I will, what would you like?"
"Chinese. Some noodles or something, no seafood though."
"OK."
"And maybe after I eat you could go and get me another bottle, I am almost out."
"I will," she said. I could tell she was tired now, she was talking with her face on the pillow and her speech was slurred a little.
"And when you get back with the bottle and after you see your friend we could talk for a while and maybe sleep together."
She was quiet for a long time. Finally she said: "I'm going with him."
"Who?"
"Him."
"Him from the Cuban place?"
"Yes," she said.
"Oh." I said it was all I could think of.
Down on the street I saw a man go by on a bicycle, he crossed the street, standing up to pedal.
"I will bring your food and your bottle and then I am going to pack my stuff and I am going with him."
"Where to?" I asked.
"Wherever."
"OK," I said. "Go to sleep now, your're tired. I am going to sit here and wait for the sun to come up and then after you leave I am going to take a nap for a while."
"I know," she said.
The couple on the parking garage got up to leave. The boy put his skateboard under one arm and he put his other arm around the girl and they walked through the orange haze, they disappeared behind another building.
The sky in the east was still dark. But at the horizon, over New Jersey, the stars were fading and there was a faint glow. The sun was coming up soon.
She was sleeping now, I could tell by her breathing.
I looked down to the street and there was no one walking now and the street was empty, there wasn't even a cab out. I poured some more whiskey into my glass and I was out of ice.
I sat there and waited. The sun would be up soon.
I knew that it was going to be cold again today. I knew that it had been a false spring.
TAR
ZACH SIMS lives in Missouri, where he is chronically unemployable. He has been published in Doorknobs & Bodypaint and has a piece upcoming on Pindeldyboz.