New Yorkers No. 2

I was walking home from the subway station when I heard him.


It was as if the air had suddenly rearranged its molecules to a less gaseous configuration; my body slowed like it was walking into liquid. A billion tiny shocks made their way up to the surface of my skin, separating it into as many tiny pinpricks. A kinetic pulse radiated from the my cheeks to my hairline.

I stopped, turned.

I hadn’t heard this voice say my name in over a year. It had been a civil breakup, until it wasn’t. Hindsight allowed me to know that he was a tornado of self doubt and insecurity, anger and sorrow, locked inside of a seemingly calm and reasonable person. He thought he was together, that he had the answers. He thought his demands and opinions were reasonable. They weren’t, and I suffered.

He slowed as I had, until he was standing a foot away from me. The walk light was orange; cars fled past. My eyelids retreated so far into my head that I worried something—dust, rain drops, a bug—would hit my eyeball. My heart was beating in my ears.

He looked the same. T-shirt, jeans that were too big, Jordans, hat. There was a long period of my life where I had thought this was my type. I’d been wrong. I remembered how he looked when he showed up at my apartment and cried like a child, something I’d never imagined I would see. I’d had to block his cell, his email address, his work email, his Facebook.

"Vivian," he said again. So casual and affable. It was why, despite living in a totally delusional reality, he had friends. "How are you?"

I looked at him. I looked back at the crosswalk. The light was white. I walked away.


I drew this little guy as a present for my boyfriend. I haven’t given it to him yet but I don’t think he looks on here haha.

6deer, pencil sketch, artists on tumblr, fawn, drawing,

I think New England beaches are my favorite. What a beautiful day.

6beach, photography,

New Yorkers: No. 1

The man stood on the Manhattan-bound platform of the 30th Avenue subway station with his fists in his pockets, slowly shifting his weight from foot to foot. He was dark skinned, perhaps Middle Eastern or Indian, and looked to be in his fifties. He was not so much fat as sagging, thin limbed but round around his middle with sagging man breasts that formed a sort of belt at about ribcage level. He wore a white baseball cap with a navy Yankees logo, a white T-shirt with the words MR. RIGHT NOW stitched on—”NOW” printed much larger on a second line and curving over the belt of breast flesh—bright Madras plaid shorts, and clean white Addidas sneakers with navy laces, to match his hat and shirt. His brow was tight and concerned, seeming somehow to be in response to the absence of an arriving train, and his mouth was puckered as if he was silently whistling.

6americans, writing, vingette, portrait, nonfiction, medium,

He had a pinched little mouth with hardly any lips. His cheeks creased around it like an upholstered button on a sofa. It always looked like he was sucking on something, maybe his thoughts.


Crosswalk, Catwalk

I had a new outfit. I had beautiful new outfit. And as I approached the crosswalk, I knew: this was my moment. I felt the onlookers settling into their places on either side of the street. The cross traffic light flicked from green to yellow and I took a deep breath, apprehensive as a runway model at her first show.

On Sunday Grandmother, who otherwise usually forgot me, took a car into town to “have a day” with me. I thought that her visit was over when she folded her napkin at the French brunch place on the Bowery, but as the handsome waiters whisked away our saucers and butter dishes and stemmed juice glasses, she looked me over and said, “I believe we need a visit to the dressmaker.”

It seemed that Grandmother had momentarily forgotten that one now “shopped” instead of having garments made to fit, but nonetheless her driver swept us around to the big B department stores and called ahead to book fitting rooms. There, attractive middle aged stylists (were they not really just floor saleswomen?) brought hanger after hanger of designer trousers and blouses and cocktail dresses. Grandmother would never buy anything piecemeal, and therefore everything I liked had to be completed with an “outfit”, down to the clutch and shoes. The women clucked and fussed and complimented my figure—”slender in all the right places!”—and asked me to turn this way and that on a dais before a trifold mirror. All the while Grandmother sat on a chaise or a sofa, sipping her Earl Grey and smirking.

The payment exchange was discreet: with a flick of her wrist Grandmother handed off her card, then acted as though nothing had happened until the receipt was returned on a silver tray. She signed with another wrist flick, eyes hooded and mouth tensed, as if she was doing something distasteful. We only purchased about five percent of what I tried on, but I estimated that she spent about 3 times what I paid in rent. I briefly considered whether I could sell the garments, or return them, to help ebb the cost of said rent. But noI was a young woman, struggling to get by in New York City; I needed—no, I deserved—some proper, fashionable clothes.

They were delivered a few days later, after some slight tailoring, by a foreign man who helped me make room in my pathetic armoire. My room had no proper closet.

I decided that the next day I would wear the simple silk dress and one of the 2 killer pairs of shoes. Mindy at work had a husband in finance and she always dressed to the nines; I always felt like I’d just fallen out of the Goodwill when I was standing next to her. And then there was beautiful Viola from Bushwick, who was closer to my age and likely did shop at the Goodwill. She wore such tattered, mismatched, ratty clothes that they passed as fashionable and excused their cheapness. Next to her I seemed frumpy, like someone who shopped at the Banana Republic outlet. Well, this outfit would show them. I topped it off with my big new hat.

And now here I was, waiting to cross 5th Avenue, finally feeling like one of those Manhattan sidewalk women whose photo could get snapped for a fashion blog at any moment. They were the women of establishment scenes in movies about New York, who worked in tall towers at fashion houses and magazines, whose apartments were made of glass and granite and had skyline views. They were models and they dated models and they only got bottle service. I wasn’t there yet, but finally, at least, I was dressed the part.

The avenue light turned red, and the crosswalk flicked to white. I began.

I could feel the eyes on me, the men hanging on the back of the garbage truck, the sunglassed woman trying to hail a cab, the teenage girls in cutoffs who were crossing the other way, the commuters in the bike lane, the homeless man leaning against the scaffolding—they were all looking at me! Me! Me!

Then, all at once, the buttery bottom of my new shoe slid forward on the slick white stripe of crosswalk paint, and I collapsed into a pile of silk and leather and street grime, right in the middle of 5th Avenue.

6medium, story, short story, flash fiction, short short, prose, twc, spilled ink,

Subway 6/13

There’s something eerily calming about empty subway stations in the middle of the day. Maybe I only feel that way because I’ve commuted in Manhattan for so long—I’ve been brainwashed to find these grimy corridors soothing. I’m not talking about Times Square or Fulton Street or Grand Central; those stations are overrun regardless of the hour. But the little stops, 2nd Avenue, West 4th Street, Bleecker. The commuters are at work, the wealthy nonworking in their town cars, the tourists on express trains. I’m only down here because I cracked at work this morning—finally, you could say—and all I can think to so is ride the subway in circles until I catch my breath.

An African American man sits behind a keyboard and sings “The Way You Do the Things You Do” in a clear tenor that echoes down the tracks, giving scale to the concrete tunnel. He’s more nicely dressed than the men I used to see at this station—hippies with long white beards playing wooden oboes, kids in loose clothes banging on upturned paint buckets. He wears a light blue polo and khaki shorts, like a dad, though I hope that if he does have kids that this isn’t how he supports them. But like a true New Yorker I continue down the platform, without stopping to toss him any change. A pretty girl in a cropped shirt perches on the edge of a wooden bench, filming him with a phone that doesn’t look like it’s sold in the US.

A stale breeze kicks up my hair—what’s left of it—and I push it back, hoping some of the sweat I’ve wiped from my forehead will  keep it in place. The man’s singing is drowned out and a moment later, the train arrives. I slip through the thin doors and into mobile anonymity for the rest of the day.

6fiction, story, prose, spilled ink, NYC, short short, medium,

Went to the Isamu Noguchi Museum in Queens today. It’s so beautiful and peaceful.

Source: ohheyitslivia

6isamu noguchi,

Happy place 🌞

Source: ohheyitslivia