It wasn't just a bra. No. It was a push-up bra. Sexy. Stiff. Stern. It was red. A deep, devilish lipstick red. With tiny black polka dots. Dizzying dots. Trimmed in black lace. Not a practical creature, but a pretty one. One with purpose. A troublemaker's bra. Worn by someone with an agenda, a plan, a targeted man. Or worn under a sweatshirt or business suit and never seen. And then left. Or dropped. A relic of a wild night. A sultry smear on a fresh-scrubbed morning. Strewn on the sidewalk. Left there. Accidentally. Innocently. Or intentionally. Abandoned. Alone.
Yes, I am getting carried away. Of course I am. Because I saw it.
We strolled down Columbus this morning. The four of us. The air was abrupt and crisp and we shivered. Toddler chided us for not dressing her properly. She said she needed a jacket and real shoes. And she was right. Baby practiced her new words and clapped her hands, squinting in the early autumn sun. We halted clumsily at red lights and then kept going. We soaked up the traditional Saturday scenery - parents clutching towering coffee cups and pushing kids and pulling dogs. Young couples, fingers knotted, floating. A plum portrait of sleepy, neighborhood innocence.
But then. Up ahead, we saw a couple bent over and laughing. We approached as they stood and wandered away. And there it was. A red gash on plain gray.
Husband and I looked at it and then at each other and laughed. Baby pointed at it and flashed a goofy grin. Miraculously, ever-curious Toddler did not ask us about it. We paused briefly and studied it. And laughed some more as we strolled away. I'm not sure what Husband was thinking. But I wondered about the girl who wore that bra. I wonder what her night was like. I wonder whether she lost that bra last night, or early this morning when sneaking away. I wondered if it was a night of revelry or debauchery or silly fun, or something more sinister. In my head, I told myself stories.
Because it wasn't just a bra.
I could write a poem about that bra. An essay. An article. A whole novel, even. And maybe I will.
As we walked away, I looked back at the shrinking red blob in our concrete wake. I decided that lost red bra was the perfect symbol of what my life is not. Mysterious, spontaneous, unsettled. And as we walked into the quaint restaurant called Alice's Teacup and settled in at a table in the back and ordered fresh-baked scones and snapped bibs on babies and retrieved tossed silverware from the floor, my mind still lingered on that poetic red bra.
"If that bra's still there on the way home, I'm taking a picture," I said to Husband while feeding Baby bits of banana bread.
He smiled and gave Toddler a sip of his orange juice. "Okay," he said.
And, sure enough, it was still right there. Meaningfully tangled. Cryptically twisted. A scarlet mystery. A clue. And I took out my camera and captured it.
Use your imagination. How did this bra end up on the corner of 74th and Columbus?