|Edward Hopper "Eleven AM"
Reached Out and Grabbed Her
Before she jumped, Anna watched couples stride, arm in arm, into the Mode Theater from the indigo, velvet-tufted chair of her bedroom. The smiling, flirting couples donned sport coats, trilbies, feathers, and frayed dresses. The sounds of saxophones and trumpets clamoring with each other rose without obstruction to Anna’s fifth floor bedroom window.
Charles rubbed the back of her uncovered legs. They were lying in bed; sheets tangled around their legs. Anna’s fingers were deep in the grasps of his rough hands. After a while, Charles got out of bed and put on his long-johns, overalls, boots and jacket. He said, “Meet me in a week?” She looked up from where she’s been twirling her finger on her stomach. “I’ll be there,” she said.
She was there a week later to take in the salty air of the harbor.
He was not. And neither were the sixteen other crab-fishermen who sailed with Charles. In the harbor, bells called from within the ships that survived the storm. In the city, behind Anna, bells tolled for those ships that had not.
Velvet rubbed the back of Anna’s naked legs. She reached down and rubbed the chair making shapes and lines with her finger. She drew a boat.
She’s five years old at her grandparents’ house. Anna has drawn a dog in the taupe velvet of an armchair in the drawing room. She wipes her hand across the image to erase it. Next, she draws a flower, a girl in a dress, and a dove; erasing each image before drawing a new one. Lastly, she draws a frown.
Anna stood up, climbed onto the window sill, and stepped onto the ledge of her Art Deco apartment building. The flappers and gentlemen looked smaller than they had from Anna’s bedroom chair. And the jazz music bounced off her skin. Her pale skin was blue and purple in the lights of entertainment. The bare bulbs of the Mode Theater sign made rings in Anna’s eyes. The rings were disturbed by swelling tears.
Anna closed her eyes, causing the tears to pour over the brim and down her cheek. She blinked and took one last look at the ground. She hugged herself and ran her fingers across her stomach. Then, she leaned forward and let herself fall.
From behind, large, nappy hand reached around her and pulled her into a tight hug. Her feet hung above the socialite-filled street. She screamed. Some of the pedestrians looked up, pointed, and let out horrified screams.
Anna stumbled back through the window and onto the velvet chair. She passed out to the smell of sea.