Litkicks Message Board Archive

canal scene #3

Posted to Roadgoing


Damn it, I was going home in a little over a week. I wanted to leave, and I never wanted to leave and I still had to finish my directed study so I couldn't even think about leaving until I'd written up twenty pages of travel writing and ugh, I needed a cigarette.

I was alone in the apartment. Well, my other roomate, the one I hated, was there, but she didn't count, at least in my mind, so though she rolled her eyes at me as I headed to the living room window, I threw the window open, propped myself up on the ledge, and lit a smoke.

I often felt invisible (immortilization in vacation photos aside) in that spot in the window. I was two stories above the street and nobody looked up there while traveling down the narrow walkway. The windows in the Arsenale were always vacant, and so I was alone, mostly unnoticed, except for a rare wave from people passing down the canal in boats. And I liked it. It satisfied some sort of voyeuristic side of me... I got to watch all this life, and nobody noticed me. And the more I watched, the more I saw and heard and smelled, the more rooted I became to that spot in the window, until I felt it was a true part of me. And the idea of leaving that window never to look at the life happening outside of it again ached.

So I lit a cigarette and stared out. It was dark, and action was minimal. My roommate scowled at me and went into her bedroom, and I was alone. I slid down, standing with bare feet on the cold floor, leaning the top half of my body out the window, watching the canal, my view obstructed by the construction. I couldn't figure out what these construction people were building, but they had been working persistently for the past couple of months. "Digging a hole to China," my roommate Elisabeth conjectured once. Seemed like a good plan to me.

I leaned, my cigarette burning orange against the starless sky, and saw a black cat walking gingerly over the construction rubble. It disappered behind some scaffolding, and then I heard a splash. "Oh, God," I whispered, hearing thrashing in the water. I dropped my burnt out cigarette and lit another. "That cat's going to drown," I said to the smoke trailing from the end of my cigarette. I felt immensely sad.

And then I saw the strangest thing I've ever seen. (I'd draw a diagram if I could.) A shadow with a tail swam swiftly along the edge of the canal, then cornered around a boat and disappeared from my view.

Elisabeth returned a few minutes later. She grabbed a pen from a counter in the kitchen and scribbled something on our "Weird Things Seen Floating in Canals" list. "A cat?" she asked, putting the pen down.


"Was it dead and gross?"

"No, it was swimming, but I had to write it down."

"Cats swim?"

"I guess so. And they swim fast, too."



She took off her shoes and walked to our bedroom. I sat back down at the table. I still had a directed study to write.