by Abra Deering Norton
(Eunoia Review 2014)
This sidewalk is crooked. Underneath, tree roots grow in a snarl, branching out in unplanned routes.
This dog, her dog, keeps his nose to the ground hot on the trail of god knows what. He was born in this city, rescued from the rubble, she was not. She tries to hold on as her big, square dog, so masculine the way his squat body pulls, is more walking her, than she – him.
This is her first iPod. It’s a special edition U2 iPod and cost around $300.00. It’s heavy, as thick as a wad of bills. It weighs down the pocket of her workout pants. Her earbuds keep popping out. She has the world’s smallest ear holes. Gnarls Barkley sings about emotions echoing and heroes living the life you want to live.
This is dusk during summer in Los Angeles. Fragrant eucalyptus and musky jasmine, warm breezes, like a caress. The dog pulling, pulling, forward, somewhere, nowhere, on the prowl.
This is not the life she wanted to live. That life involved tranquility and learned people who read books. Strangers pass. Every face a strange face. What kind of people abandon dogs?
This is busted beauty, cracked sidewalks. Lights softly illuminating the green lawns, in a gentle arc up a sidewalk, warm glows behind new condo windows, the whole Westside has been condo-ized. What is she holding onto?
This is Hollywoodland, she thinks. She can’t put it in her treasure chest of childhood dreams, she thought it was an Arcadia. She believed in beach sunsets, driving up the Pacific Coast Highway, palm trees. It’s desert here, even the palm trees are transplants.
This ground has no room for more roots, all the root-spots are taken. This is the wild root west, roots grow willy-nilly, desperate for a foothold. Roots have nowhere to go. Then the ground shakes and an earthquake shifts everything two inches to the right.
This furry butt charges on, going, going, gone. What her dog is smelling she doesn’t know. She just follows. Maybe he imagines a pastoral land. This is not what she imagined. She imagined friends sitting around pools drinking cocktails. Back home, she once saw friends sitting on a front stoop drinking red wine, talking, as friends do. One held a goblet and one leaned against a bike. Here everyone’s from somewhere else, with someplace else to go. Her dog ploughs forward, nose to the ground, looking, longing, somewhere under this patch here, behind this palm tree trunk, over in this dark corner – there must be something of value here somewhere.
This is the place where no one likes who they are, only…who they want to be.
This is what she knows.
This is not her life.
Abra Deering Norton received her MFA from UCLA. Her flash fiction story “Divide” appeared in the Fall issue of The Subterranean Quarterly.
window of my childhood
open just enough
to hear the rain
Abra Deering Norton
(Issa's Untidy Hut Lilliput Review Haiku 2015)
palm tree fronds slapping
violent Santa Anas
a sinister moon
Abra Deering Norton
(The Haiku Journal)