Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Ghost Story, Ending TBD

Yesterday I was at lunch with someone who said he hadn't seen a certain movie because, he reasoned, "Who needs a ghost story? Isn't life scary enough these days?" I concur. Even movies with titles like Confessions of a Shopaholic are enough to scare my pants off in this economy, and with so many hypothetical axes being slung every which way, the last thing I'm trying to get into is more gore.

Still, I can't help but create a little suspense in my head once in a while, especially when the weather calls for it, and especially when I've been churning out a feature story in utter silence for days on end. And so, when I'd typed the last word of said story yesterday afternoon (in case you're wondering, the word was "here"), I stood up, slipped on my tennis shoes, and exited the premises. It was 5:51pm and a tad late for a walk, but that's what Daylight Savings Time is for, right? It was also drizzling rather seriously, but by the time I'd realized it the front door had closed behind me and it was Too Late to Turn Back.

Dodging sludgy puddles and peering through the fog on the lakefront path, I beheld the enshrouded Chicago skyline. I passed beneath the dim orange glow of an endless row of streetlights. I outpaced the rush-hour creep of Lake Shore Drive. I made my way along the curve of a narrow concrete pier that dead-ends about a quarter of a mile out into the water, where I determined to touch the graffitied steel lattice of a lookout station before retracing my steps. It was a curiously warm evening, but an empty chill rose from either side of the walkway; below, winter's slow-melting swaths of chunked-up ice floated in ringed patterns like crop circles, rolling heavily atop the waves. It was, in other words, an Eerie and Unsafe situation (sorry, Mom!).

As far as I knew I was the only human soul on the pier, but when I turned I found myself walking toward a man dressed in head-to-toe black (workout wear, mind you). He was tall, gym-rat burly, and despite his stony expression, clearly be-bopping to something effervescent on his iPod. We inched closer, and I held my head as high and level as possible, hoping to exude an ass-whuping air of defiance. My hair, unrestrained by any ponytail-holding device, swirled about my face in what I imagined to be an extremely mermaid-esque arrangement. "That man could kill me right now if he wanted to," I thought. "One hard shove, and I'd be a goner." (See above: My possible fate.) I became acutely aware of those undulating ice circles, one of which I might disappear into like a basketball swishing through a hoop. Eye contact was established, and the man and I passed without incident (obviously, as I am still here to spin this heart-stopping tale).

Moments later, the Alicia Keys song "Superwoman" began piping through my headphones, and my mind turned from dark scenarios involving hulking powerwalkers to the daily business of pep-talking myself about my future career. "You will once again be a valuable asset to some company, some day," I preached heartily. "Yes you can. Yes you will." I even sang along a little, since no one was around.

Closer to home and now in full darkness, I waited to cross the street with a group of sensibly accessorized office workers (umbrellas, galoshes) who'd just filed off the 151 bus. They'd stayed late at their desks, no doubt, to prove their usefulness. At a lull in traffic we moved forward in a pack, and for a block I pretended I was one of them. You know, just for karma's sake.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am loving the Alicia Key's inspiration. Emma, yes you can!