Heather Sager ~ The Cool and the Lonely

I am writ­ing about a man. When I check in on him, he is stand­ing under an old-timey sign that reads LIQUOR. I won­der if he should wear his hair long, and then sud­den­ly he does. He wears a suit and has a dim­pled cheek.

He goes to the desert and strums his gui­tar among the cac­ti. The Joshua trees uproot them­selves, march over to him, and cir­cle him in a fun­ny walk. Stars whiz through the night. He sings about trains and eat­ing hard rock can­dy, get­ting drunk amid the soul-black­en­ing rock for­ma­tions.

There is such free­dom in him.

I send him to Mexico, not a real ver­sion of a Mexican city but one that expands in the day­time. It’s pas­tel-bright and explodes its archi­tec­tur­al grandeur along ram­shackle roads. Cars blast horns going by for­lorn street chil­dren, Tijuana men and women. I start to lose track of my man. I can feel the help­less­ness he feels just before he unstrings his gui­tar and com­plete­ly dis­ap­pears into the crowd.

I set­tle my gaze on an impov­er­ished woman.  She’s sell­ing wax can­dles under a bridge. I say Stop, there, intend­ing to leap my mind into hers. But she ignores me and keeps sell­ing can­dles. I feel lost, so lost, with no one to focus on. As I try hard­er to con­nect with the woman, the ground shakes. The whole world rat­tles.

~

Heather Sager is an author of short fic­tion and poet­ry. Her sto­ries have appeared, most recent­ly, in Sweet Tree Review, Little Patuxent Review, 45th Parallel, and Vestal Review. She lives in north­ern Illinois.