A man stepped outside the building, on the fourth floor of which he worked as legal counsel for a trade association. He was going across the street to Whole Foods to fix a box of lunch from the salad bar to bring back to his office.
Mid-March snow melted in the sun. As he waited
for the signal to cross, he felt it -- the first shiver of spring. It was
in the 30s today, but the air was spiked with something fresh and
vibrant, a bud of something ready to burst.
A girl in her teens or 20s stood next to him. He watched the shadow of her, her hair blowing in the wind. The shadow of her hair was shaped like a flame.
He thought of something from a long time ago: a music festival he had gone to back in high school. She'd had long hair
that waved in the hot wind, and skin that tanned the color of
caramel, and raggedy denim cut-off shorts. In the sun, he could smell
the clean sweat that patched the underarms of her shirt. He could see
the soft upward swell of the undersides of her braless breasts through
the thin fabric of the much-loved T-shirt. He'd watched her shadow on the grass as she immersed herself in the music. He'd watched her shadow flare and gutter and die out as the sun went down.
Back in his office were binders of case summaries and
legislative briefs. His reflection showed craggy pores and sunken
crescent moons under his eyes. All the rest of his springs would feel
nostalgic instead of new, would require his effort to remember. For all
the rest of his springs, he would have the feeling he was watching the shadow of something, not the real thing.
But a shadow is an indication of a thing. A shadow means a thing is still there.