He didn’t go to college. He went to corporate. There, he dressed better than the others, smiled more, and wore glasses. Everywhere, he obeyed orange hands across the street. Here though, as a college undergrad stood on the other side facing him, there wasn’t one. He waited on cars. Books or briefcase? These hands all around chose to grab things that won’t yank them off, sweat the fear. How many decisions don’t you make? Even your feet are dictated and your safety is a responsibility of the state. You’re too preoccupied to look both ways to use your head at all. What intricacy they’ve placed around us! Come, give us your eyes and wait for this. We build anthills. So attractive, a young woman walks up to the corner and stops next to the briefcase. He looks at her, staring for two seconds, and smiles when she looks at him. She looked confused.
“How are you?” He asked.
“I’m afraid.” She replied.
“I don’t know how to do this. What if I’m not good enough to make it?”
“Don’t worry, you’re just as conditioned as the rest of us. That’s no problem.”
“Okay.” She said. “I just worry I’ll never be able to go.”
He looked at her in the eyes and told her, “Shut up. You’re perfectly able….It’s not about ability.”
“Please don’t yell at me.” She said. “We’ve only just met and it’d be terrible for you to turn out like that.”
“Okay. I’ll never do it again. I promise.”
“My feet talk to me at night. They ask me about all the streets they’ve never seen. Where one day they’ll go, they dream.” Looking down at her feet she pouted and batted her eyes. When her eyelids rose, her eyes were staring right into his like mind control, like potency greater than a lover’s voice.
“Mine too.” He said.
“And they ask me if they’re broken.”
“What do you tell them?”
“Some day…Then they ask why I wait until that day, when they’re no longer able, to show them around where all the other hills are.”
“What do you tell them then?”
“Nothing….Never had an answer. Then they call me an idiot and tell me they’ll wake me in the morning, or when the bladder gives word.”
“I don’t know what to do.” She said.
“I don’t either, but you can do what you want…Like this.”
He looked at the undergrad who was now pacing around doing things with his arms and his hands and his hair. Then both directions..with no cross traffic he steadily walked across the street. What? What am I doing!? Please, I’ll never do it again if you just give me this one time! I never asked her name! Probably wouldn’t have been able to pronounce it anyhow. All these things he thought, but did not show. He even looked up halfway through to see how much time he had left, but remembered there was never any there. Thinking that she might not come, he turned around to ask for her name, but there was a car three blocks away and he panicked, spinning back around and immediately running the rest of the way. This made him look dumb and eccentric, but he made it. He could have made it three times with the little amount of traffic there was. He turned around and waved the girl over.
“It’s not so bad!” He yelled. “It feels good actually! Come on!”
She looked both directions while biting the nail on her index finger and then putting it inside her curled up left hand in front of her. After waiting for the slow moving car that had endangered the briefcase to pass by, and watching it forever after it did, she lightly ran across the street.
“It’s amazing isn’t it?” He asked her when she arrived on the other side.
Raised in Macon, Ga., Thomas H. Milner has spent recent years travelling the country — the west in particular. Nine months out of 2014 he labored in North Dakota with structural steel buildings and other industrial positions. Following North Dakota came 6 months in Los Angeles where not only the city had its offerings but the diversity of people provided inspiration. Subsequent to the western living, Thomas returned and currently resides again in Macon. His general curiosities provide him with hours of research and appreciation of a variety of other craft be it woodworking, playing guitar, spontaneous navigation, upward transition, studying literature of various sources and genres. Now at 24, and frequently not writing enough, Black Heart will be his first publication.