The city roars outside the window. She grows tired of the perpetual noise: cars honking for no reason, buses lurching along, and occasional yelling. She usually runs a fan to drown out the cacophony; but this summer she’s found a sound that she likes.
The ice cream truck drives by every night around 10:15. Like an old tire, the music sounds like it could deflate and go out of tune at any moment. I wonder if whoever is driving the truck can turn the music off, or if the music turns on as soon as the keys are in the ignition. These are the things I think about.
I’m doing the dishes when Vinny gets home. Every night is the same, and I wonder if other couples repeat their conversations night after night, too.
"Hey hon. how was your day?"
"It was good, no big sales, just another day, you know" Vinny shouts, as if I’m standing across the street.
He walks into the kitchen, wiping sweat off of his face, kisses my forehead and then gives my belly a quick rub.
"How’s my girls?" he opens the fridge, pawing at the contents.
"We’re fine, heard the ice cream truck again"…I’m dying to talk about it with someone.
"I dunno what’s so damn interesting about that," he cracks open a beer.
"I have a feeling there’s a story behind it."
"Nah sweetie, it’s just some creep, out lookin’ for some tail." He thinks all of my ideas are worthless.
He sits down in front of the television, and I look down to see my hands ragged and red from leaving them under the hot water too long, again.
It was the fourth of July. The air reeked of hot dogs and burnt hamburgers. The smoke from the vendor’s grills rose up and quickly rushed into my eyes. My belly was big now, and I wished that someone could help me carry the weight. Vinny dragged me to the fireworks, despite my reservations.
"What if the noises scare the baby?" I worried.
"That won’t happen, sweet cheeks. We’re gonna have a good time, you’ll see" and patted my knee.
Now I was drenched in sweat. It was nearing nighttime but the heat had yet to subside. Vinny and the boys from work were having the good time he’d promised, only they were chugging beers and I was contemplating standing all night, fearing that sitting down may leave me in the same spot until a tow truck could come.
"Hey, VINNY!" I yelled, "I’m thirsty, you got anything other than beer?"
"No, doll. C’mere."
I made my way over.
"Now you take this five dollars and go get yourself something to cool you down. Alright?"
He obviously thought he was doing me a big favor.
"Thanks.." I murmured, but he was already gone, yelling at the guys.
I started walking towards the vendors. There were ice cream trucks everywhere. My heart was beating fast now. I wanted to rush every truck, looking for the driver from my neighborhood. I wanted to escape, but I knew that Vinny would find me. Things weren’t so bad, were they? He took care of me and would take care of the baby. I got in line for a drink. A bottled water would do fine. I even got nachos for myself. Processed cheese would surely make me feel better. This nonsense about the ice cream man was all in my head.
I knew I was wrong. I would be better off if I wandered away from Vinny and out of this city, but it didn’t matter anymore.
I fell asleep during the fireworks.
I’ve still been thinking about meeting the ice cream man one of these nights. Now I pace nightly by the window, sometimes standing so long in waiting that the baby kicks until I sit down. The truck was probably white, but is now cloaked in grime. Pictures of the ice creams being sold are on the side, typical, and the packing tape which holds the pictures to the truck has dirt underneath it too. I couldn’t call this an obsession, no, but a distraction. Simply an event to look forward to at the end of the day.
I like to think that the ice cream man and I have isolation in common, perhaps a sort of shared desolation. Only he voiced it with his nightly musical interlude, cutting through the darkness and entering through people’s open windows, hoping to grope them and finally get some attention.
A Pennsylvania native, Christina Snyder studied literature at the University of South Carolina. She currently works for F.A. Davis Company, a Philadelphia-based publisher. Christina is currently at work on a teen novel. This is her first published story.