She slept on a park bench made of concrete, and spent her days in Golden Gate Park heating up rocks in various pits of warm soil and burning coals. The rocks slept beneath the concrete bench that slept beneath her. If you look to your right just after Fell Street becomes Kezar Drive, after midnight, on your way into the Sunset district, you might catch them glowing. They look like the kinds of rocks that a kid would bring home to their mother promising it’s a dinosaur egg; a rock worth collecting when we were young enough to believe rock collecting could be a viable source of income, possibly a career.
Through the night the rocks kept the bench hot and the bench kept her lower back warm enough. Her hands were the first parts of her body to wake up in the morning, they were always left grasping for the warmth that left the bench, after the rocks lost their scalding heat to the morning fog.
She always fell asleep slow and woke up fast. This trait is also indicative in her speech, her pitch hid at the end of her tongue’s wind-up, satiating the oncoming collisions of her thoughts.
“I carry these rocks every day back and forth between this bench and a fire pit over there, and a fire pit over there.” She pointed in two different directions and made a ninety-degree angle with her arms, from a distance she appeared to be saluting a crowd on stage at a rock concert.
I didn’t tell her that she probably throws out her back while moving all of these rocks that she spends all day heating up. I didn’t tell her because I was so sure that there is a proverb about it, and I have an increasing fear of accidental plagiarism. I also think that she already understands that, and she made it pretty clear when she told me that she was a cautionary tale.
I can see it almost every night, as I’m passing Stanyon Street, a concrete bench, and these huge glowing stones beneath it. She sleeps on her back like a sewing needle.
I can see those glowing stones, and I hope that the stones that I’m carrying are adding muscle, and not strain, even if I can’t tell the difference, even if there isn’t one. Either way when she told me “My life is a cautionary tale.”
I responded, “Yeah, I think mine is too.”