I wake up naked but clear. My eyes open with a lucidness that is as foreign to me as daylight. No bruises or gashes. For the first time in a while I’m…okay. It’s early, the morning is still wet. I look outside, laugh, then blink a few times and look again.
A train chugs along in the distance. I throw a beer can at my friend, who is wearing clothes. Even shoes in his sleep.
The train rounds the bend. I blink to life. Feeling magical. I need him to tell me if what I’m seeing is real.
Miles springs from the bed. “What man? Can’t you see I’m asleep?”
“Look outside,” I whisper.
“Why do I need to look—Oh God. Dude, can you cover yourself up?”
I find my blanket and yank it up to my waist. The train shakes past, its horn blasting through the valley. Miles is still looking at her from the window. “How the hell?
I shrug. Miles stands and stumbles over to the window, obviously not feeling as great as I am. I sift through the clothes, looking for something clean. Everything smells like armpits and smoke–stale from past revelry.
“I’m going to check it out.”
“Okay, let me know,” Miles says, falling back to his mattress. I look around the room. Bottles, trash, dishes, blankets, clothes, a sagging book shelf. With the rising sun flees the romance of being a starving artist.
Outside the sunrays liven Ellie’s wavy hair. Her stone arms stretch towards the sun though she were welcoming the day. She faces the river that she drowned in, but to me it feels like she just stares at our house.
My steps slow as a lyric flutters around my head but never takes shape. Ellie haunts the river, near the fountain at the sidewalk where we sometimes make enough money to eat when the tourists come to see her. But today she is wearing my favorite jeans.
A quick look around, then back to Ellie. My pants are little loose in the waist but otherwise fit her. They aren’t cut or sewn and I can’t imagine how she pulled this stunt. Her eyes sparkle, in a bronzed gaze, and maybe it’s just my clarity but her fixed smile looks a little more mischievous than usual.
I climb up to her where I can see the chips and scars of time and weather. Faded graffiti like tattoos on her hot, hardened skin
The train howls from a distance and I reach into her pocket—my pocket, where I find a torn piece of paper.
The song hits me like the train. Then I’m inside, Miles stirs as I jot down the lyrics. He stumbles out where he watches me like I’m possessed. Maybe I am.
Strumming along, I sit at her feet and the song takes hold. Miles grins. He doesn’t ask about the jeans but his eyes widen at the melody. I sing of the wonder, of the pain. Of loss and heartache and pain.
They start to arrive around lunch. Whispering and pointing, they too see the miracle. They crowd around as I sing to the sky. In my head I hear Ellie singing, pushing me to wail with passion. The crowd swells, recording the miracle and the music with their phones. They seem happy. Amused. And I play until my fingers bleed, until the sun hangs above us and descends behind Ellie’s back. Finally the crowd thins.
Miles lights a cigarette. I’m exhausted and bleary, the day has been lived.
“Dude,” he says, his voice alive with the night just as a cop takes notice, hustling down to shoo us from the sculpture. Miles exhales with a grin.
“You’ve got to put some clothes on.”