“Black Wave”

I’m wearing black because I’ve decided to kill someone today. I used to be happier, between sixteen and seventeen or so. I wore orange, red and yellow. Colors of confidence. At some point, the shirts became dark blue, then dark brown. If you want to be accurate, black isn’t even a color. It’s a condition. In my happier moments, I listen to the Goldberg Variations (though not Glenn Gould with his perfectionist ease), and I turn to Radiohead (depressive howling) when the darkness rolls in.

I sharpen my inner pencil, flex my fingers, touch the keys, think for a few minutes, and then go to Kaufland, the ultimate supermarket for ideas. Wide aisles and even taller shelves. It is a shopping hangar, where I can select my ingredients. I loathe the store, because there are too many options, countless choices. I have to make decisions. (The deli counter alone is ten meters long.) I shove my empty shopping cart through the main entrance, without a shopping list as usual. What should I take? I decide to go for the tennis player. Just because, following my intuition.

Why? You’re supposed to write about those things you know something about. I know the game, even swung a racket or two in the past. I understand the rules, the point system, love – forty. Serve.

She packed her skirt and t-shirt into her bag, picked up the racket, quickly tested the tension of the strings with the ball of her hand, zipped it into its cover, searched for her tennis shoes with their smooth, white soles, tucked them inside as well, folded the towel, closed the zipper. She studied herself briefly in the mirror, shook out her long, brown hair before pulling it up into a ponytail. Her breasts were too big. Nothing to be done about that. Jacket on, bag up, out of the changing room and along the hallway. “Bye, Zoltan. See you tomorrow.”

“Take care, Mara. Good game.”

“Thanks. Could use some improvement before the tournament.”

“We’ll work on it. You’re good.”

She smiled, left the gym, the white light blinding her some. The night air was a shock and relief. No frost, just chilly hands. She took the street heading toward downtown. The neon signs swooped past, over her head. The sidewalks were all empty by 10 pm. She turned around. Why? Because something told her that she wasn’t alone. A bad feeling in her back, a barely perceptible prickle. Behind her: nothing, nobody. Maybe just a quivering shadow. Now anxious, she increased her pace, lengthening her strides. Today the bag in her hand seemed heavier than usual. With nervous fingers, she unlocked the exterior door. Third floor. Took the stairs. One more lock, before she tumbled into the friendly warmth of their apartment. The deadbolt protected her against all possible fantasies. She flipped the light switch, all of them, just to be on the safe side. Grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge. Listened. Heard the turning of a key, two times, and froze. She reached for the pepper spray.