Clouds Illusions
Bev Vines-Haines
Dorsal Winner

I feel the rain, sleet really, seep deep inside my wounds and know the clock is winding down.  At last.  So many close calls I’ve survived.  More than my share, truth be told.  How did I get so careless?  Tired, I suppose, and I flat misjudged the old man.

The freezing rain numbs my pain and I press closer to the alley wall where I have fallen. I feel drowsy, a bit confused, still struggling to understand the old guy’s anger.  Was he crazy?  He wasn’t buying diamonds at Tiffany’s.  I’ve seen better days.  I live on the street.  Any fool can see that.  Getting down on these old knees in front of him was a challenge and I wondered if he would help me get back up.  I remember moving his expensive wool coat aside and sliding the zipper on those tailored trousers.  Dude oozed money.  And loneliness.

Trouble hit with the paying up.  Fifty dollars.  I usually charge forty but he could afford fifty.  And it took him so long.  Too long.  Damn knife came out of nowhere.

Look there!  A sunset.  All that orange and pink.  Makes me smile.  I never wear orange and pink together.  Thought they clashed.  But no.  Look at that.  Whole end of the alley splashed with beauty. 

The sleet turns to soft snow.  Clouds overhead.  Moving swiftly to overtake the sunset.  Slow down.  No hurry.  That’s my personal show, clouds!  You got plenty of time to obscure beauty.  Been doing that to me all my life.

Makes me think back to that stormy day in Mississippi.  I was six.  Clouds rolled in over our old farm.  Started swirling.  They joined forces, swooped like ballerinas, and I watched them dance my house and family off to heaven.

Clouds have not been my friends.  One time a group of boys caught me snoozing in the park.  It was almost dark and I was thinking to head back to the streets.  They took their turns with me.  And so much time.  Angry boys.  Angry.  I often wonder why men are so pent up.  But that night I looked up at the clouds, all roiling and black.  Those boys finally left me when the rain began spitting its own fury.

Plenty of clouds all my life.  Lot of pain.  Had a baby once.  Sweet girl named Chloe, swept away in the storm of divorce.  Good mamas do not use horse.

Oh those clouds are pushing the sunset now.  Mixing black in the orange and red and pink.  I’m feeling the cold.  Should have caught those colors by the tail and flown away.  Now I’ll just ride those clouds.


First published: August, 2013
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