Soda for Julia

Florence swept her thick braid over her left shoulder and walked towards the edge of the bridge, clinging to the space between old and new. The truth was, she had come here every Sunday afternoon after her morning bagel at the shop, even though she knew that she should have gone to her new job’s mixer. She stood there for a few seconds, and then relaxed her muscles and took a step back. It was these moments that gave her that rush of exhilaration that she craved every so often. It wasn’t like she had any other excitement in her life anyway. 

She trudged back down the two-or-so blocks that separated her dull walk-up from the bridge and sat down in her old loveseat. The phone rang, a muted sound that penetrated the green walls of the rental building. “Flora, honey, I’m gonna need you to get that!” someone shouted from across the hall. Florence ignored it, and shut the door to her room. The shout came again, and exasperated, she climbed out the tiny window and sat on the fire escape. 

The next night, Florence walked west towards the bridge to watch the sunset. She sat on the edge, dangling her thin legs over the swift water as she watched the horizon fade into nothingness, and then she began the trek home. The usual street she took was closed for construction, so she took the long way around, stopping by the pharmacy. She picked up the soda that Julia used to drink and put it down. She walked around again, and came back to the drinks aisle. She bought the soda. When she got home, Florence added it to her ever-growing stack of unopened soda, noticing as she stood up that it was leaning precariously to the right. 

Florence awoke to a sunrise of painted streaks against a pale blue sky. She opened her door, and in the process, knocked over the soda. The crash opened her ears and eyes, and reminded her of the skiing accident in eastern France that winter. She thought of Julia. The phone rang again. This time, she walked to the phone and lifted it to her ear. “Flora, it’s me. Please don’t hang up. You know Julia wouldn’t have wanted you to do this.” Florence hesitated, and nodded. “I knocked down the soda today. It felt good.” 

That Sunday, Florence bought her bagel, and walked to Central Park West. She sat in the park for a while, and decided that she would go to a work party. She walked back home and took out her braid.

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