This flash fiction piece originally appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of :Lexicon, the literary magazine of the English Department at Duquesne University. Enjoy!
You go to the Schenley Park Overlook, a wide grassy plain surrounded by trees, with a little dip of a hill in the middle. From here you can see the many layers of Oakland: universities, hospitals, and aging brick rowhouses tucked into the folds of the hills, the blunt dark top of the Steel Building in the distance. You take out the picnic blanket that has been in the trunk of your car for a very long time, and you join the dozen or so people lying in the sun. You put on your sunglasses and apply a generous layer of lotion. The echoes of young voices carry up the soft slope of the hill, as children somewhere play something, and a breeze rustles the sturdy maple trees surrounding the meadow, flicking the pages of books held by dozing, tan people.
You are wearing a sundress, which was perhaps a bad idea, because the breeze keeps flirting with the hem, and the old Greek man next to you, topless, sunning himself in a beach chair, seems to sneak looks more often than the other people do. You ignore it, tell yourself it is probably nothing, and if it isn’t nothing, then it doesn’t really matter, because at least someone enjoys your thighs. It’s been a while since anyone has including, if you’re honest, yourself.
After an hour or so, your sensitive skin tells you it has had enough Vitamin D for the day. You get up to leave, folding the blanket in halves and fourths and eighths. The old Greek man, having said nothing to you all this time, now laments: “You are leaving already? But you just got here! It’s such a beautiful day. It will rain tomorrow!” And you regret wearing the sundress all over again; you realize he was in fact looking, and you wish you hadn’t thought so flippantly about the matter. You laugh lamely at the man’s remarks, make an excuse about being late for something. You make excuses to him, this dried apricot of a man you will never see again.