‘Low-hanging fruit’, he says by Natalie Chin
Natalie Chin lives in London. Her writing has been published in The Quietus, Ellipsis Journal and Living In The Future.
‘Low-hanging fruit’, he says
6pm, the sun disappears in another poem. The surrounding buildings are emptied like the day is ending. Everywhere we look people are swarming towards the train station like it is the hive. There is a heaviness to the air, to the movement. It all seems to slow down in one direction. I pause on the corner, turn to Alex — Alex, who I only met earlier that day, and now he’s here with me. We light another cigarette and look through the crowds. Let’s play a game, I say to Alex, let’s see who can spot her first.
A minute later, I see her: At the train station, the only stationary figure in an unrelenting stream. There is no one else there waiting. I don’t say anything, begin walking in her direction until she is only a crossroads away. Though we move with the river it feels like I am sleep-walking. She looks exactly the way I thought she might. Funny how that works: like I should always trust my instincts after all.
The way she re-arranges her face from one of anxiety to casual excitement is the same way I would re-arrange my body language when I wait for him: she waits, too. Already, the ache overrides every other feeling. Alex looks at me, he is holding my luggage. He says, Maybe we should just go to the airport. I say, Yeah, maybe. We cross the roads, and she is still in sight, and then we are with the crowd passing her.
As I turn, I see her take out her phone, presumably to ring him. There is a dry ache that seems to drop from the back of my throat, that signals to me that I am losing my voice. Somewhere else up the road, his phone is ringing, but I no longer care: this isn’t about wanting to understand.
I close my eyes, take a final drag of my cigarette, drop it and stamp it out under my foot. I walk up to her, this girl who would shrivel up and die without the male gaze. I punch her in the stomach. She screams as her eyes focus on me. I laugh as I do it again, and then she grabs my hair. The whole crowd splits wide open, like a mango hitting the ground. Someone calls for the police. My flight leaves in five hours. There are whole worlds that none of us know anything about.