The City Centers

The City Centers

There is a man standing on one side of a very busy highway. On the other side of the road is his wife. There are no lights at which to cross the road. As to how they came to be in such a situation is a matter of everyday living. They went to shop along the high street and when they went to look for each other after finding what they needed from their separate shopping lists they got lost, eventually ending up on opposite sides of this busy road. They had recently chosen to give up their cell phones for a time because they felt the phones were getting in the way of their relationship. Thus there was no simple solution.

Standing across from each other, he tries to shout something. Although she can see that he is saying something, she cannot hear over the traffic noise. When she begins to wave her hands to communicate that she cannot hear, he imagines that she is saying “No”. Eventually they are able to communicate to each other that they cannot communicate. Everything is okay for the moment. She points to her left and motions. He imagines that she is telling him that she has come from this direction. He was just wondering where the hell she could have come from. She is intending, however, to tell him that they should both walk in this direction to find some kind of bridge over the highway. He becomes annoyed and simply sits down for a moment to think. He cannot think because all that keeps coming is how it was that she got lost in the first place. He recalls going into the hardware store knowing that she was in the bakery across the street and that when he came out he could not see her in the bakery.

“What is he doing over there”, she says under her breath. He’s just sitting there. “He’s always putting on some kind of show”, she says with a stamp of her foot. Sitting there he becomes aware that the traffic has died down. He gets up and instinctively scrambles down the embankment of the highway. She cannot believe what he is doing and starts to scream and wave her arms violently. He is lost in his intention and pays no notice. When he reaches the verge of the highway he sees that there is no traffic coming from the side that he is on. He darts across the road and reaches the median. Catching his breath he looks up to see his wife waving wildly. He hears her voice, somewhat now, over the road noise which has picked up again, “What are you doing you idiot!?” The traffic is quite thick again, at least on the side that he must now cross. He starts to sweat and gets a deep shiver up and down his spine. He now sees where he’s at and feels that he could die there.

A small crowd has now gathered around the woman. She is too distraught to talk to anyone, but they mingle and chat and share theories about what must have happened. One young man offers that it is clearly a suicide attempt. An elderly woman with a shopping cart approaches the wife to console her. By now 10 or 15 people have gathered suddenly out of nowhere it seems.

Eventually a police cruiser arrives along the highway. The man is crouching unaware on the median. He eventually notices them as they approach him cautiously and stands up suddenly and shouts with joy, frustration and embarrassment. To them he has all of a sudden become dangerous and they draw their weapons and shout for him to lie face down. As they handcuff him and put him in the back of the cruiser he sees his wife sobbing high on the embankment. He tries to explain that the sobbing woman is his wife, but the police turn to see only a small crowd gathered to watch the events. As they drive off they call ahead for psychiatric assessment upon arrival. The man in the back of car is shouting incomprehensibly.

Many hours later after the woman has tracked down the whereabouts of her husband, he emerges from the holding tank to find her waiting for him. They silently and slowly approach one another. They embrace. Something passes between them, even through the heavy clothes they are wearing. Almost for the first time they understand who they are to each other.

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