Samuel loosened his tie, squinting up at the sun. His beige suit looked dingy in this sunlight, he could see grime at the cuffs. Should take it to the cleaners, if there's time. Tomorrow.
He looked at his watch. Half an hour before the meeting. He shouldn't be out here, should be going through his notes, but the office was so cold today. Sun warm on his cheek. Samuel turned his face up, stopped on the sidewalk, a woman grunted almost running into him, bent her steps around him, the other people on the street following her, flowing around Samuel.
I am a rock in the stream, thought Samuel, his face to the sun.
Angela wasn't happy with him this morning, he was slower than usual, holding her up, holding the kids up. They should have made it to school okay, though. She kept bumping into him in the kitchen, You still working on that coffee? Bumping, then moving around him, it was easy enough to adjust.
A lot of people out on the street at this time of day, thought Samuel. Lunchtime, why don't I ever come out for lunch?
He liked the feeling of hundreds of people moving around him, shoulders brushing against his, voices, thoughts crowding into him. He could smell hairspray, and cheap cologne, and bad breath, even that was something, Samuel breathed it all in.
I never liked crowds before, thought Samuel.
Samuel drew in another breath, and it stopped. He let go and tried again. It was caught in his chest. Caught there, hung up, and now he couldn't let it go.
Already, thought Samuel.
He looked at his watch. Ten minutes to the meeting. They would have to start without him. Just as well, he never did look over his notes. He wondered where Angela was, this time of day. Did she go out for lunch? He thought maybe she did. The kids, his girls, would be in the cafeteria, green trays, fish in a square, peas or lima beans. He could hear kid voices bouncing off the floors, long cafeteria tables. He looked around at the people on the street, then up at the sun. He tried another breath. Nothing.
I wish I'd worn the blue suit, thought Samuel, as his knees gave, bending, falling slow to the sidewalk.
Thanks to Maqroll and Deniz Eskisi