BY CARLY SUSSER
I’m walking with Rob outside a little league field in Hoboken on a Saturday night when a groundskeeper drives up to the curb and disembarks. I trust his red jacket and white hair, his saunter up the grassy hill, and the way he already seems to know what I need.
"You looking for a bathroom?" He points to a set of concrete stairs by the dugout. Unsure if Rob will follow, I hesitate. "Look out for me," I tell him. Rob removes his coat and folds it over his arm.
"You can go with her," adds the groundskeeper. "If you wish."
Rob and I are tourists to this city of late-night bars and falafel restaurants that attract twenty-somethings from North Jersey. Driving here, I awaited the car that would ram us off the dilapidated Pulaski Skyway and into the brown Passaic. First it was red, then silver, then blue. Any could’ve been the one. I wouldn’t know which until it hit us. Both lanes empty, I realized it would be the kind of car I couldn’t see. The one coming up from behind.
The women’s bathroom is behind the batting cage and marked with a sign that means "woman"—a person wearing a dress. This door leads into a tiled room of brooms. A reception, I imagine, for women waiting in line. Who were these women? Would they be here if not for their boy on the field? The size of my family shrinks and swells with every boyfriend I acquire, because even after we split up, I give him reason to stay. As time goes on I give less, but still, something. He drifts like a gull on the wave, or a fish that slips out of a bay into the ocean. I take him to Frank Sinatra park when I want to see New York City wink at me from its skyline.
The tiled room leads to another room, a sink and two stalls. Its massive black door is propped open. I lock it. No one can enter while my pants are hooked around my knees. The floor here, too, is tile, pink. Dark shoes might be here later if, when I unlock the black door, a man pushes me back into the stall. That’s how I learn it’s a he, and his shoes are black. That’s how accidents happen. You don’t see them coming. And these things that happen happen slow, like any dream you remember.
Every night I pray for the same thing, but every day I forget what. It must be the same because I only pray when my nerves are spent and all I have is the prayer. It begins, in your hands, and then I fall asleep. The hands are made of light. Sometimes they are joined as a cup, but I cannot see inside, whether they’re empty or not. If we are the sum of our fears, I think is how the rest goes, let me be.
I button my pants and exit the stall.
Watch one hand steady the knob and the other turn the lock.
Stadium lights flood the tiled room. Rob is on home base. "Hey," he says. "Just let me do this." He drops his jacket and runs to first, second, touches third, home, and slides.
"Home!" I cheer and clap.
He stands, shrugs, brushes yellow dirt off his jeans. "I just had to do that," he says. Abandoning his coat, he walks towards the men’s bathroom. "Might as well." He walks in with such ease, the stuff made of prayer. The batting cage is a shiny, towering net stopped in time. Standing inside of it, I know the Hudson has its way to the Atlantic.
Carly Susser is the editor in chief of Platform Review. Her work has been featured in Sweet Tree Review, Word Riot, The Mom Egg, Ground Report, and Yes, Poetry. She holds a BA and MFA from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. Carly teaches writing and yoga in New Jersey.