Missed Connections*

i saw you near the bus stop at wales street and lee avenew

i was the girl in the dark red cords and the holly hobby sweater and clogs. the kind that make that cool clip clop clip clop sound against the sidewalk. it was monday. or tuesday? i was wearing my pink ballet tights and my black leotard under my clothes for dance lessons after school so yep it was definitely tuesday. the clouds looked like my grandma’s hair all gray and poofy as i walked to the bus stop all by myself. Mommy says im getting to be such a big girl. she still reads to me at night and tucks me in and i don’t care what the mean girls say i like it.

you were the one with the messy brown hair poking everywhichaway out of your baseball cap and driving real slowlike in your dusty white van. you kept waving at me with your cigarette hand to come over psst psst but mommy told me never to talk to strangers so that’s why I ran to the neighbor’s house and rang the bell.

i just wanted to tell you that smoking is bad for you and you should probably quit.

 

To the friendly man at the intersection of McArthur and University / W4M 

You: A guy, maybe 35, 40-years-old, wearing acid-washed jeans and a ZZ Top t-shirt, crew cut hair, pumping gas into your tan hatchback. The summer sky was popsicle blue.  Classic rock, I think, was squeezing through a crack in your passenger side window.

Me: A girl (a woman?), mid-20s, in white jeans shorts and a cherry red tunic with a Peter Pan collar. I picked it up at The Limited on clearance. I was cleaning all the takeout bags from my floorboards and trying to vacuum out my car before the time ran out. When will I ever remember to bring enough quarters to get the job done?

If you thought I was staring at you over the roof of my car, I wasn’t. I was looking past you at an orange tabby scratching around in the dumpster. Perhaps that is why you thought it was a good time to wave and say, “Hey there. When are you due?”

“Oh, I,  ummm, February?” I smiled—all of my teeth showing, gums too. I can’t remember what you said or did after that, but I thought you should know:

I was not pregnant and I smile when I’m uncomfortable.

 

I’ve seen you so many times hanging around the neighborhood, but I’m always too scared… / W4M 

Friday night around 10 p.m. I was the one in the bathroom trying to sing high like Mariah Carey—Keep feeling emo-tions, deeper than I ever dreamed of, ah-ah-ahah, ah-ah-ahah, ah-ah-ahah—leg up on the soap dish shaving, you know, down there, before my boyfriend arrived. You were the one with the dirty blonde ponytail, thick eyebrows, and five o’clock shadow standing against the wall, all quiet.

A few minutes later I was the one prancing around my studio apartment in a towel belting show tunes into my hairbrush (but not too loudly because the windows were up) trying to figure out what to wear—the pink lace number or the shorty pajamas. They were both probably going to end up on the floor anyway, so I don’t know why I thought it mattered so much.

You were the one who my next door neighbor saw use the workmen’s ladder to climb onto the wide ledge outside our windows. You were the one she called the police about but didn’t tell me, didn’t tell anyone else, just played dead like a possum under her futon. You were the one she said matched all the flyers on the telephone poles: Wanted for Rape 1, Probable Cause to Arrest. You were the one—right before the cops rolled up with their heavy-belted swagger—that got away.

——

*A missed connection is a type of personal advertisement which arises after two people meet but are too shy or otherwise unable to exchange contact details. The Missed Connections section of Craigslist gets thousands of ads of this type every month for cities such as New York and San Francisco. —Wikipedia

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Image credit: manrepeller.com

 

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18 thoughts on “Missed Connections*”

  1. Well, I’m certainly glad you missed the first and third connections and the second guy can shove it, ugh. I know I’m kind of a broken record, but your writing is amazing. I especially like the way you made the first vignette in all small letters with some stream-of-consciousness to better represent your youngest self. I also really enjoy your details that are aways so fitting for the time period (and boy do those take me back, haha). And the twist that is the title. This is perfection.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh gosh, how I love this so. And an amazing commentary on perspective, particularly the 1st one. Funny story – while I was reading this someone in clogs clip clopped by my office. Did you order sound effects for this piece?

    A tiny thought – I may need more coffee, but I had to read the last paragraph twice to work out the action. I inferred that you learned about the guy after the fact, since the neighbor never warned you about him? Creepy perv. Crappy neighbor.

    There are so many feels in this piece, disguised by a creative format. Powerful work!

    Like

    1. Yes, the connection was missed with him in that I had no idea he was out there. He ran away right before the cops showed up. I *think* he ran bc my boyfriend had driven around the back first. The girl next door didn’t tell me for a WEEK that he was even out there and then it was in a very “oh by the way” kind of exchange. I never left my windows open again, I’ll tell ya that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lisa, I’m choking back tears. This is so powerful. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve shared this on social media. Your writing is always aspirational, but this is stellar. You’ve captured the gamut of emotions and personalities so succinctly, from the bubbliness of innocence, to the creepiness of these dudes, to the frozen fear of the neighbour. I love that you’ve used Missed Connections to tell this story — that was inspired.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This reads like fiction. I had to remind myself a few times that these were all real. That gave it even more punch. The inspiration, the maturing voices, all of it lends this so much power. My favorite part was the line where little girl you just wants to tell the guy that smoking is bad. It is so sweet and so horrifying.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such a great piece. I can definitely relate to the second one…. I’ve had multiple customers at work as if I’m pregnant. I had one ask about the pregnant girl that was working at my store “just a couple days ago”. Nope, that was me. I’m just fat…. Thanks though!

    The last one is absolutely scary!! Do you live in a creepy apartment building or was it just random? That is insane…

    Liked by 1 person

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