Karen Gillespie was non-descript and usually very chilly. Her brown hair fell in a limp ponytail, and the looser skin around her thin jowls bore those signs of weary surmises, bored frowns, and lackluster people-watching. Perhaps Karen’s most interesting feature was her ability to be somebody different every day. She would flip aside the dainty, lace curtains in her cozy, yellow-walled apartment, and glance at the weather blowing by her window. On the days when trails of sunshine drifted down through the cement and brick walls of the surrounding city elements, she would pick up those wooden pencils labeled, “Karen,” in black permanent marker, and squiggle what seemed to be letters or numbers in some semblance of order in vertical lines upon crisp white papers. She always stacked the papers neatly afterward. On the drearier days when faded, ashen clouds filled the ether surrounding the sidewalks, she would pull out a gray pan and mix a batch of gray elements in a gray bowl to create some sort of buttery-smelling baked goods.
The uneasy queasiness of a Monday morning stirred her to look even closer out of the window, for possibly five seconds longer than she would normally glance. The air outside was clear and crisp, one which the skin did not find too hot or too cold, but Karen tucked her brown knit sweater around her arms tighter. She carried a tray of cookies and muffins upon her arms, a brisk pace to her steps, as she rounded the corner, avoiding the horde of soles and cracks filling the pavement. At one crowded crosswalk she glanced up, with a murmur only any friendly neighboring ears might hear, that, “We ought visit the Empire State Building tomorrow. There’s a chance for rain today.”
Pandering along the walk, a rainbow of shirts and shoes clattered by, and she offered a simple nod or smile to any who might notice. She paused too long in several doorways, stopped to ask several tourists for directions, and slid quarters in expired parking meters, red flags catching her hazel eyes. Pedestrians waited behind her, sighing, lingering slower in their tasks, and tarrying for moments more.
Karen delivered the tray to the gritty back door of a small bakery. A slumped man grabbed the tray with only a short pause and a flick of his brown eyes toward hers. “For this evening,” she stated firmly.
“Are you sure?” his thick hands and accent hesitated.
“Before the day is over. ‘Tis high importance.”
A delivery truck rumbled up behind her, cutting off the sky and effecting a period for Karen to glide by with a ducked head and closed ears. The baker did not prefer her deliveries, but he more often than not allowed them with a sullen nod. He knew she had been leaving a trail behind her today, for tomorrow would change the world.
The baker slipped each morsel into a paper box. A note in Karen’s handwriting glided down upon the stack, the loopy cursive offering a good day to all. He knew the goodies would churn stomachs and create a trivial frivolousness, temporarily changing minds and altering time. And yet he nodded, allowing the kind turn to act on its own.
“Delivery boy!” the baker called, his voice echoing through the busy shop. “Deliver to Tower 2. Floor 110. Pick an office.” The boy nodded, black hair falling over his lackadaisical and preoccupied face. The words drifted out the door and into the alley.
Karen allowed her cheeks to surge upward for a moment, a slight rosy glow emanating. She turned the corner again, migrating into paths and crossing traffic, dawdling and darting, tilting and tumultuous, wishing she could walk slower and in more places. She knew she could not change all, but she could change some. For minds had been made, and alterations miscarried, until wit and worry would not unwind the clock that continuously twisted its way into tomorrow.
Karen stepped into her doorway and listened to the steely concrete, the shadowed whispers, and the busy matter encircling her apartment. She knew the sounds would soon silence and an even more somber cloud fill the sky. Her nimble fingers slid the door shut and her padded feet shuffled the body over to the sink to stir up another batch of dough. Tomorrow would be a busy day.
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