On the side street to my left, Locust Avenue, I see passing thoughts gather in corners to be swept away by street cleaners and the violent storms Autumn has coming.
A group of teenagers approach with the scowl typical to those who know how much life hates them. They look cirrus, stopping when they reach me, and their communal angst recedes into comical interest. A small victory is needed and making a stranger uncomfortable is as good a win as any. I do not fault them for this. It is a trait I can almost remember.
"What's your deal, dude?"
"You. All of you. The street you're walking down."
A look of confusion crosses them, except the speaker - the apparent alpha - who tries another tack.
"Reading books, huh? Let's see one."
I can see it in his eyes. Rumors that smell of arson. Dogs kicked in face of defiance.
"I can't." I reply ruefully. "It is not the way."
He pauses, silently finding his way between my clear refusal and the notion it might be for good reason.
"These are the words you may read, but this is not how you are to encounter them. This is the short cut in the woods best left untaken. You are the future, the whole future, and you have to come upon these things at the right time or not at all. We can't fast forward the natural progression. Us meeting, right now, is the clue you have to make due with. It may be three, seve, or even ten years before you discover the connection. But if there is any hope for us at all, you have to be the ones to figure them out. It is a slow riddle told over the course of time and only as a result of your own actions. I just figured out one meant for me, just now, before you walked up. I discovered the last part here on page 73. Let me show you..."
With that I read them the passage aloud, ensuring they understood all the words and the meaning of the word 'coda' before closing the book.
"I first discovered this notion when I was 8, while on the playground. It stood, as it were, on the other side of the street, and I could barely make out the colors of its clothes. It wasn't my time to understand, just start the process. Only today, today, do I make the connection meant for me. You look at me now the same way. You see my suspenders, my linen pants. I look like I'm from another time. It bothers you, ever so lightly. But now the connection has been made. Now your fuse has been lit. Now you are to walk to the end of the street, take a left or a right and continue to countless more years before the circuit completes itself. Only then will the light catch and shine for what you have been waiting to see. Thank you, and good luck."
With my monologue finally over, the lanky leader laughed a single breath before ushering his platoon further down the strip. With bravado and headshaking I watch as they catch themselves in each storefront window they pass, checking for biceps warped in the hope of glass, a carriage rooted in backbone, wondering perhaps if in the next or the next they might grow older or at least a find themselves little closer to becoming.