Going Back

I’ve been using my shirt as a rag, wiping barbecue sauce off of my fingers. I’m too hot and too tired to be embarrassed. Besides, it’s Ribfest and I’m not the only one.

I head down Dundas toward Wellington, passing storefronts that haven’t changed in fifteen years. The Scottish pub flicks it’s carriage lights on as I pass. The little parlour on the corner pumps out mediocre pizza smells. The used bookstore opens it’s door and Ace Is Base sings memories down the street. I sing along until I’m out of range. If you wanna leave, I won’t beg you to stay…

I make my way to the bus stop on the corner and dig into my pockets for change.

A man in a torn tee, baggy jeans and a cloak of body odour smiles at me, a rib bone sucked clean and hanging from his greasy lips.

“Saw you at the Ribfest,” he says with a nod to my shirt. I fold my arms over my chest even though it’s too late. I don’t want to engage him but I can’t help it. I nod back, eyes fixed on the bone and the orange drips forming on his chin. He contorts his lips and adjusts the bone from one side to the other, sauce leaking.

He stares at me, chewing, until the bus squawks up to the curb and then he smiles and hops on. It’s the one I’ve been waiting for too but I step back and wave the driver on.

The bus lurches forward pulling away from the curb and I sit on the stoop of the nearest building, wiping my sticky bangs off of my forehead with the back of my hand. I pull my purse unto my lap, waiting in the afternoon heat, forgetting that buses don’t come as often here. I peer down the street in vain.

My knuckles feel the first drops just as the thunder cracks making everyone startle and look up. They dip into their bags, pull out their umbrellas and begin unfurling.

I haven’t got an umbrella. I’d forgotten about these summer storms. I press myself against the building but the rain comes at me sideways, soaking me through and, by the time the next bus arrives, I remember everything.

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