by Colin McGowan

Intersection of Foster and Western, Chicago, daytime, a pale sky with mists high above; traffic signals, CarX Tire and Auto, and Quick Bite across the street
Image courtesy of the author

I was riding west in a cab on Foster Avenue, on my way to New York for a dreaded work function, watching residential blocks scatter and reassemble, lanced through at more frequent intervals and with increasing violence by broadening thoroughfares terminating in highway. In midwestern cities, when there are not enough buildings or trees around, an open, empty, dismal feeling pervades. The sky and landscape are like the surfaces of palms closing in on each other.

The last time I’d come this way was shortly after my cat, Patton, had died. On the morning of my 33rd birthday, he was crouched beneath the credenza peering into the living room with vacant anguish. He was an uncommonly intelligent animal, and over three days in and out of the veterinary hospital, I watched all recognition drain from his eyes. Though I felt, at the end, that he knew it was me holding him, it’s possible he died utterly confused.

The cab was bearing down on O’Hare, and I was bearing down on my 34th birthday. Earlier that morning, I had a dream that I ran into a friend at a party. I was having a bad time. She said I looked rough, and I wanted to tell her: Carrie, you dont know the half. Work sucks and my writing isnt going well. All my friends have moved away. (You’ve moved away.) My cat died and I know it sounds stupid, but that might be the worst thing of all.

It’s a paywall, but a small one

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