She washes down second thoughts with whiskey gingers.
Remembers the young man in a newsboy cap, flannel shirt
and grey peacoat. Too young to have a beard,
but he wore his proudly. He looks like he stepped out
of a story by O’Henry, she thinks. Then reconsiders.
Is he even old enough to know who O’Henry is?
Looks down at the chipped navy coffee mug.
Wishes she had a respectable tumbler.
This drink should go in a high ball glass.
She adds more ice cubes, even though she is shivering.
This is how her father filled his glass.
The sound of ice falling down meant daddy was home.
Stop it. She doesn’t want to indulge in childhood memories.
Considers signing up for burlesque class.
Anything to end the monotony.
Some day, it will all be right, she thinks,
regressing towards the future.
A professorship teaching literature to young idealists.
A brownstone filled with bookcases.
A partner, male or female.
Adopted children.
Trips to Italy.
Cooking Indian food together on Thursday nights,
seasoned with herbs grown on the window sill.
These are the ghosts of things that will be.
She takes another sip and rearranges the
Mahjong tiles in her head.
Tessellations emanating from her reptile brain.
“I wish I would have taken AP Computer Science,”
she muses. “Then I could deal with ones and zeros.
Not people and their opinions.”
Pours a little more whiskey. A little more ginger ale.
And stares down the salt and pepper shakers for answers.