Devoured

Cheryl Diane Kidder  

I am standing on the corner in my blue flannel nightgown that I’ve had since high school, waiting for the bus to come in. Cesar is on that bus, I know it. I saw him get on at Geary and Van Ness when he switched from the 28-Geary downtown to the 43-Van Ness to the beach. I know it because I was following him in my ’63 Fairlane. The one he usually drives when we go out because “it looks better when the man is driving." But I drove it for three years before I even knew Cesar and I can handle it just fine even though the automatic steering went out two years ago and it’s a bitch to parallel park. 

 

I just cruised around the 43 and pulled up right into the bus stop – totally illegal, but I don’t care. I am standing on the corner of downtown San Francisco at eleven o’clock at night in my blue flannel nightgown waiting for the bus to catch up with me and I don’t care. The fog is coming in and the pavement is cold and I realize I'm barefoot, and my mother’s voice is in my head about broken glass and never being barefoot outside, but I don’t care. I have nothing, not another stitch on under my nightgown and I don’t care. The fog molds around me and clings to me and all my hair is flying out away from my head and I don’t care. 

 

The fog is wet on my face and it's hard to see through it, but there it is coming toward mestraight for me just like I knew it would, like I knew he’d get off the bus right here–not down in the Mission where his aunt lives, where he tells me he lives, but here where she lives, in that second story window over the liquor store at Van Ness and Polk. There, where the light’s on, a red light, a soft red light where she’s there waiting for him. 

 

I know he's getting off here, like I know the bus will stop just short of hitting my bumper, like I know she’s not the only one he sees, like I know the two-month-old baby in a basinet back at my place will grow up not knowing her father, but will live her entire life with his long eyelashes sweeping down in the wrong direction that will always remind me of him in the morning looking at me from across the bed with his eyes half open and a smile on his face. 

 

Cheryl Diane Kidder's work, nominated eight times for the Pushcart Prize, has appeared in numerous journals, including  Potomac Review,  Weber--The Contemporary West, Brevity, The Manifest-Station, Boaat Press, Front Porch, High Desert Journal, CutThroat Journal of the Arts,  Pembroke Magazine, Brain,Child, Identity Theory, In Posse Review, and elsewhere. She is the Assistant Fiction Editor at Able Muse. She lives in Tucson.