Part II - Samskaras
Blue Jay Way
In the pond’s glassy, morning reflection, Sharon sees the Jays flying overhead. They swoop and turn, opposite the water’s mirror. Following their inverted reflection, she considers that possibly the lesion in her head is confusing her vision.
By her side, Skye is watching their antics too. Four of them glide down across the pond just skimming the surface, directly toward them. As they near, the four pair off on either side and make another go around. The unnatural movement reminds Sharon of the Blue Angels. Skye’s head turns as they roll through with each pass. Sharon knows that if it was his toy bird on the end of a string, he would be jumping and pouncing. Today he’s just as enamored as she is. In their final pass, they fly to her back porch and sweep to a perch on the railings, two on either side of the steps. Sky jumps off his throne and paws Sharon, then rolls in the leaves. Jumping up, he runs toward the house and sits on the first wooden step, between the pairs. Sharon surrenders to the scene of feline and fowl in this unnatural arrangement.
Today, I’m open to anything, she’s thinking. Tired of crying in the kitchen, worried about if she’s going to be alive a year from now, wondering if the world sees any value in her anyway. At the precinct, she is invisible. Sharon despises the empty, shallow “how are you?” pass in the hall. “Oh, just great. Life is good. Too much fun.” It’s all bullshit. They never listen to the answer, and now they don’t even ask because the lieutenant can’t take a joke.
It started when life took another sweeping turn. Six a.m. Sharon gets a text, “lunch? Sushi? xo.” Skye is still curled at her feet. Skye protests with several head-butts on Sharon’s hand, causing numerous typos in her reply. Six hours later, Sharon is at the sushi café on her off time with Kiley, her girlfriend, best friend, the new love of her life. They always sit on the same side of the booth. They both like ginger dressing, and chopstick sword fights, with a playful kiss in between each bout. Sharon thinks that this might be the right time to tell Kiley about certain medical issues. Not just now, she decides, holding back, enjoying their precious moment.
Through the window, they see a woman. They can’t make out her face under the red hood, but they see her there often. She is counting and organizing leaves under a tree.
“I hear she’s quick on her feet. I bet quicker than you, even with a chopstick,” says Kiley.
Sharon looks up from her plate of dragon rolls, “I offered her a meal once, and she turned me down. She lived in the apartments across the street. Her husband was killed right there; drunk. Fell off the curb in front of a car. Rumor has it she may have helped that along.”
“She doesn’t look like the killing type. I’ve seen her with her hood down, honey. She’s beautiful you know. Better watch out,” Kiley says pursing her lips.
Captain Yarborough is overhearing in the adjacent booth. He’s eating with a fork, swallowing his steak hibachi, without chewing, in noisy gulps. He pauses only to communicate a look of disapproval. When he gets to his last mouthful of rice, he apparently changes his outlook, casting a sexy eye their way. He’s alone thinking it’s sexy. Sharon rolls her eyes at Kiley but has nothing to say. She is used to that at the precinct. Kiley, on the other hand, flips back her long hair and slowly uncurls her middle finger to the Captain. Sharon quickly pushes her hand down. Kiley is pissed. So is Captain Yarborough, walking heavy steps to the register to cash out. Kiley’s steps were heavy too, not happy with how Sharon handles this jerk. Sharon’s been acting distant lately anyway. Keeping secrets, she suspects.
The next day, at the precinct, Captain Yarborough is watching Lieutenant Holmquist as she takes comments from one Roxanna for an ongoing investigation into the curbside demise of an abusive plane passenger with an “M” on his tie clip.
“Hate spending hard earned taxpayer money on dyke cops,” he opines.
“I’m sorry miss Roxanna,” Holmquist says, embarrassed, and blushing because everyone heard.
“I’m thinking he’s the one that needs to apologize, Lieutenant,” says Roxanna.
Sharon maintains her “do not engage” policy with Yarborough. She says nothing to her misogynist superiors who would think she is not man enough to take a joke. Sharon has enough to think about. Serious matters of life expectancy and mutating cells. But there wasn’t a person in the room that didn’t hear it. Yarborough is immediately placed on leave that afternoon, pending further investigation. Her peers fall silent. Sharon doesn’t discuss the issue with anyone, except for Kiley. Kiley wants to sue the department. When Sharon tries to convince her to let it go Kiley gets pissed. Says she’ll find somebody with no secrets, that is proud, and that she, for one, is not a bystander. Then Kiley’s phone calls and texts stop, and Sharon’s go unanswered by the only person in the world Sharon can confide in.
Sharon is feeling empty on her pond walk, remembering when it was the three of them, Skye running in between their legs. Skye has a way of making Sharon feel like she is worth something in the world, especially when he is sitting on the end of the bed, purring by her legs. When he snuggles up to her chest, she feels like she’s worth more.
Open to anything, Skye is. He sees things as they are, and Sharon is thinking more like Skye, King of the Pond. So today is the day, to rise above, and find joy. Today will be fun because Sharon is on duty at the farmer’s market by the river. She finds it ironic that she is taking over Yarborough’s Saturday assignment. There’s definitely some joy in that.
Sharon meets Skye at the steps. The Jays still perch on the railing, unafraid at arm’s length. She hears her police radio crackle and calls from down the hall. Sharon opens the screen door, looking back at the Jays as she enters. They are looking back also and sounding their call too. Sharon recalls that her radio is switched off.
“Farmers market, two bridges is,” the radio blares, startling Sharon.
Open to anything, she thinks.