About Midnight
Eliza C. Walton
Tonya swats at the green gauze dropping from her canvas cap.
"Phwah," she spits.
Hooded in a beekeeper's mask, huddled in the MetroTransit stop on Elm and Fifth, she flexes her sinuous thighs. A full seven L'Egg'd inches show between hem and boot tops. These heels are good. Black patent crinkles catch light at the ankles, from puddles by the curb. October rain swooshes like a dishwasher cycling through "rinse."
"Oh shit," thinks Tonya. "The bees are all dead. It's fuckin' winter tonight. What the Hell was I thinking? Fred'll be fixed on hibernating stoats, for sure." She plucks the hood away from her face, then drops it. "Bees. Fuck me. Shit."
Tonya shakes her head. "Phwaahw. Pffft." Netting clings in the wet, black air to her foundationed nose and glossed lips and thick, pitch eyelashes, Maybellined into toy scrub brushes, lifting and falling with each bat of her lids. Thinks, "I am so screwed."
"Bees," she blurts out loud then to the mudged plexiglass. "I shoulda sprung for a freaking ranger's hat. Rabbit ear flaps." She shivers, lonely and suddenly scared. She needs this John. He's a rare, known quantity of cash. "Fred's never gonna go for this. No way."
Tonya glances from the sluicing street, almost a rapids now, to her legs again, and smiles.
"These babies'd wake up a snoring stoat, any day. Yeah. Fred's in the bag, all right. Again."
The 32nd Street bus pulls up, soaks her with a wave of oily water, neon purple and green in the headlights. Her boots squelch as she mounts the Metro steps, nods to the driver, who acknowledges her with a short nod. Toggling the gearshift, he stares straight ahead and eases back into the fractured light of this city—glints on an asphalt slipstream—tonight, in the rain, seductive as shimmering bees.
Eliza C. Walton is an essayist, poet and memoirist living in Maine. A graduate of Bennington College, she has published in The New York Times and The Hartford Courant. She is currently working on her MFA in fiction at the Stonecoast creative writing program at USM.