Dear D&D Diners,

I thought, as you stepped out on the sidewalk in front of me, that I’d pass you, soon.

But we walked- you barely a yard in front, my steps following in your matched stride- and even before we’d crossed Sherman Avenue, I knew I’d be behind for awhile.

You were two. Black coats buttoned, zipped high against the winter wind that had blown up in a matter of hours. You wore gloves, both of you, your hands swathed in thick fabric, stiffened fingers clutching the handles of your white grocery bags.

I wondered, as we approached Sheridan Road, where I’d cross, and slip behind Tech, into the athletic facility, where exactly you were headed. Of all the buildings Northwestern has to offer, I wondered where you would set your groceries down, where you would pull those thick gloves off, where you’d sink to the couch, the bed, your desk- breathing heavily the sigh of disbelieving relief that comes when whipping winds give way to heated walls and florescent lights overhead.

But you left me just before we crossed Sheridan. Both of you, steps still in sync, food-laden bags still bumping around your knees. You crossed the street to the south, the stood there, waiting, just as I did.

Twenty feet between us, we waited to cross the busy road, the white headlights and red taillights of rush hour traffic washing over first me, then you, as cars rolled haphazardly through the green light.

I turned for a moment then, to watch you both.

And as I watched, the stream of cars- rolling, stopping, jerking up the street- slowed, just for a moment. There are always more to come, but in that moment, there was a space, a gap, and one of you, the one closest to me- you stepped out. You moved towards the street, took a step, an ever so small step, in the way you would go.

But the other- the taller one of you, reached out then. Laid a thick hand on your arm, pulled you back. And you stepped back once more. Stood and talked once more. Let your groceries bump around your legs, swinging in the piercing wind once more.

And then the light turned, and we all crossed, but I turned north, just a bit, and snaked down the alley, past the backdoor smoking benches of Tech, and you? Well, I don’t know where you went at all.

But I know in that moment, standing at a stoplight, you reached your hand out to stop, to pull back; you cared to hold back, to keep safe, to keep close.

And standing where I was, across the brake-light lit street, I care that I saw.

~Natalia

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