That summer, the water in that city ruined my hair. After every wash, the same refrain: clumping and matting. A whole bottle of hair conditioner later, and I was at the dim-lit bar. A man gestured something at me with his eyes, while outside, the awkward artist typed his number in my phone. We’ll meet for lunch, he promised. The warm air made disassociation easier, even if the drinks were weak and the conversation hard to follow. I’d get drunk at home, I decided. Then the traces of the day would fade, present and future melting together, like the sky and sea whenever we’d take the long road to get far away. There are too many nights and not enough conclusions. Nothing ever happens for me, I told him, but what I meant was, I don’t let anything happen. If you remember what I said about your eyes, I’d ask him, please don’t tell anyone. It would betray my reputation. Later, the complaint about the water would become an ice-breaker. Who hadn’t had an experience with unsatisfactory water? All the papers talk about conditions of possibility and I refuse to look up what it means. What’s the use? The conditioner detangled my hair. I kept it wrapped in a towel—color’s up to your imagination—and I stood by the window. A woman at a window makes the story worth reading. It recalls the folktales of our childhood. In one of them, the woman fashions a body, her body, out of rags and hay, with tree branches for limbs. A branch arm sticks out, waving goodbye forever.
Genta Nishku is a writer living in New York.
Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower