Excerpt from Linda Danz's collection of short stories: Breath Visible, published by Bookbaby, December 2017
The View From her Bridge
Gaye had sensed right away that the wing Balint had offered to take her under might be too constricting. On her first night in the city, Gaye had been determined to head directly downtown on her own. Balint had pooh-poohed that idea. The Brooklyn Bridge was covered in tarps, under renovation, lead paint removal or something. It could go on for years. “You’ll get creamed by some crazy cyclist,” he warned. “I’ll take you around the neighborhood.” But Gaye resolved to find her own way.
Thrill quickly suffocated under a surge of theatergoers crashing toward opening curtain. Gaye briefly lost her bearings. Shedding her newcomer status, she stuffed the subway map into her bag, clutching it tightly. She found herself on a quieter, darker strip where desultory men demanded spare change.
“Looking for something to eat,” one grizzled husk of a man begged. She shrank from his dark, leathery hand.
Uptown and downtown suddenly meant nothing to her, despite the effort she’d put into studying the map. She plunged back into the throng until she found a subway entrance. Trains roared in both directions over four ominous tracks, drilling her bones. She spotted one that indicated the World Trade Center. It didn’t make sense. What was there now? But she figured it would get her close enough to the bridge. She jumped back in fright when the doors of the subway car closed, clipping her misstep. Shadows flickered from the grate to the street above the platform. She felt entombed. Disoriented, she stumbled in one direction, stopped by a sign that screamed NO EXIT. Ominous black bins at the end of the platform pulsed with rodents. In a deli window above ground, her reflection—glistening and pale, black hair pressed to her head like a moldy sponge—was a cruel reminder of her naiveté.
The light under Balint’s studio door, the sound of a chisel tearing into wood, had been a relief. He was working. She’d slipped unnoticed into the apartment, sliding the chain in the lock behind her. At the flip of a switch, mice skittered under throbbing fluorescence in a panic of discovery. Defeated, she gave them back the dark she was still not used to, a dark that had a light of its own. She’d crawled into a strange bed, crying herself into an exhausted sleep.