June 2011

Last Stop

The train started at West 4th Street and sped downtown under rivers and snow soiled and black from the exhausted city till it came to the last stop at Rockaway Beach, where it rose aboveground, passing over white topped buses and immigrant mothers who pushed strollers through the clogged streets below, unaware that above them, a man studied the way that they moved. Mitch Stern had started the day in Poughkeepsie. After quarrelling with his wife about the terms of their divorce he had slammed the front door and walked to the train station. He found himself in Grand Central Terminal, where he bought a black and white cookie and studied the roiled stock market report on the broadsheet of the Wall Street Journal, though he no longer had any stock.  We loved each other once, he had said, slamming the door behind him. Before, Miranda looked at him, pitiless. She had nicked her finger on the serrated edge of a can throwing out the trash, and sucked a bloodied finger. She ran the blood fingered hand through her hair, then stopped and placed her hands on her hips, waiting. The door slam followed. But then, coatless in the snow, walking, Mitch had an image of the way all things end at the shore, there at the end of the world, and he rode the train until he saw the Atlantic Ocean crash lonely onto an empty winter beach. He got off the train and walked toward the water. On the horizon wind pushed up whitecaps. Gulls glided above the cold gray currents.