When the Watcher Becomes the Watched
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By Chris Wood
Daisy always took the 7:30 PM PATH train back from Manhattan to Hoboken, New Jersey. With hair color resembling her name this young woman smiled at the cracks on the street and hopped up onto the sidewalk, over a lingering puddle of slush and ice, before she cut across Washington Street (the main street in the town) and through the park to her apartment building. Her backpack bounced off her lower back as she bopped along listening to her I-pod.
Being winter, the sun had long since retired and its counterpart was glowing, like a lone streetlamp in the ebony sky. Sniffles and coughs by passers by were audible and Daisy let out a paused sneeze after a chilly breeze zipped under her reddened nose.
“Sir, um, hello,” Daisy, shivering and hugging herself for warmth, posed. “Hi, um, how much f-f-for one?”
“One hot chocolate is: two dollars for large, a dollar fifty for medium and a dollar and a quarter for a small. What you want?” The olive skinned man, from behind his newspaper booth, asked. He had a thick black mustache and gloves with the material around the fingers cut off.
Daisy rubbed her hands together and sniffed. She was alternating weight from left to right foot in place, in front of the man. Her pale blue eyes shifted up, to the right and then to the left. “Hmm, oh I guess a medium. Is it really hot?”
“Yes, hot, hot!” The man poured the steaming chocolate liquid into a white Styrofoam cup, sealed the lid and passed it to Daisy.
She took the cup in her bare hands and breathed out a frozen cloud of liberation. “Ahh,” she closed her eyes and gave a toothy smile.
The man made change from her two dollars and she pocketed the quarter. Then she held the cup in one hand and went around into her backpack with the other, fishing for her violet wool-knit hat – all the while continuing on her journey.
By now, she had reached the park. There was a great bronze (now turned green with corrosion) statue of a man with one tightly fisted hand across his chest. An epitaph of sorts was scribed beneath the statue on the concrete block below his feet. Daisy read this every night. It was a quote, famous, possibly, but the author’s name was anonymous: Those who are melancholy may ask about my loss, although forbidden by time for me to tell. Just know that in hearts which possess goodness, for without sacrifice no mounds shall be built and no society shall rest long.
Each time she finished, Daisy turned her head to the side, slightly, and bit the top of her lip. Daisy lifted her shoulders with a shrugging motion, pushed a grin across her face, turned on her heels, and continued.
The merry-go-round was spinning, making a creaking noise upon each complete turn – the wind perhaps.
Once she exited the park, Daisy turned right and walked behind an elderly couple – the grey haired man was using a cane as well as his wife’s arm for assistance. She didn’t pass them – as if they were a nuisance to her busy day, as many young people do – but tread behind them, matching their pace. Her chocolate was being sipped regularly now. The frigid air must have dulled its heat.
At the corner, Daisy crossed to the left while the couple kept on across the intersection and up the street. Daisy looked at them, then bowed her head as another gust of winter attempted to push her body back. She squinted her eyes and scrunched her face at the bitter seasons greeting.
Jogging, Daisy grabbed the railing to her building and chugged up the seven steps to the main entrance. She pulled her keys from her heavy black pea coat and went inside.
From this point, I lean against the lamppost at the corner of Willow and 4th Street. I look at my watch, 8:15 PM, and then up to the corner window on the fourth floor. In about thirty seconds my girl’s apartment light goes on. I always take a deep relaxing breath at this. Usually, I’ll wait around for another five minutes and have a cigarette. She’s a wonderful girl – my daughter Daisy.