Snapshot Stories – Carolyn 2007

Carolyn 2007

My arms are pressed against the glass. I’m trying to see beyond the scope of my vision; past the trucks and the vehicles stacked like paper plates at the end of a party. I see people waving their arms, trying to grab the attention of the guys in uniform that pass them by in a hurry and with fixed expressions, intent on going somewhere. I see the lights flashing, blue. Bright piercing blue, cutting shards through the dark night.There is no sound. I try to reach my arm across the seat. My friend is terribly still, her head looking out at the scene before us, transfixed by the silent chaos.

A man with a white flat hat and shiny black peak looks in through the window at me, his face slightly at an angle as if he were stooping down to look at me. His mouth is moving but I can’t make out what he’s saying. He’s shining a torch-light just past my left ear, following the beam with his eyes. He looks at me again, then at my friend in the seat next to me. His mouth smiles, and his eyes blink slowly at me. I cannot hear him. I blink slowly back. The glass is cold against my arms.

The man walks away and I see for a moment that the scene before me has changed. Somehow the cars and the lights seem obscured by trees. There is stillness on this side of the glass. Muted, immediate. Safe in a little box.

There is movement once again. More people with hats and uniform through the glass. Another man peers in and gives the thumbs-up in his big thick gloves, though I’m not sure whether it is meant for me or my friend, or maybe someone else. His mouth is moving but I hear nothing. Just like the other man he smiles a confident smile, the kind that locks into place at the corners followed by a short sharp nod, though his eyes stay fixed on mine as if he’s waiting for me to flinch and look away. But I can’t. I just stare back knowing that I can’t look away.

I don’t know where I am.

I breathe deeply and the glass in front of me mists up. I can just about make out the outline of the man with the big gloves still looking into my eyes. I take another breath and I suddenly feel cold air on my face. My arms are no longer pressed against the glass. The stillness is gone and I can hear voices, underscored by the hum of engines and machines all around me as if someone had turned the volume up. I can see the man is dressed in a large light yellow suit, it looks warm; though covered in dirt. His mouth is moving again, except this time I can hear words. He stops then he repeats the sounds:

“My name is Steve. What’s your name?”

“Carolyn” I say.

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