2nd Place: Noah Pedrini
Noah Pedrini has always felt a strong affinity for the written word and wanted to be, more than anything, a writer. Taking some creative writing courses in college, it wasn't until relocating to Buenos Aires in early '09 when he began writing in earnest. Inspired by the city's strong literary history, he embarked upon the never-ending process of honing his craft, writing regularly and joining a weekly workshop of expat writers. When not writing, he makes art out of found notes, plays fingerstyle blues guitar, and travels.
In the middle of the pedestrian thoroughfare stood the lone gypsy selling roses. People buzzed in all directions. Hungry businessmen in suits broken by pastel colored ties, dazed shoppers draped with three and four bags on each arm, packs of teens skipping school, smoking cigarettes and talking in uproarious voices. Each made a point to avoid her. Moving to one side or the other, they instinctively added a bow to their trajectory as they passed, air molecules confronting the aerodynamics of a polished airplane wing.
Holding a single rose in her left hand and a bouquet in the right, the gypsy courted each anonymous body methodically, inserting the rose into their path for a few exacting seconds. A blue plastic bag with extra supply hung from her right wrist, responding to her gyrations with a subtle, perpetual swing. Her hair was short and black, curly. A secondhand jacket rested on her shoulders, a denim skirt stopped at her knees. She looked Egyptian or Romanian, Lithuanian maybe.
A couple strolled down the sidewalk at half-speed about a block away, holding hands. The pedestrians swerved around them as they did the gypsy. Noticing the couple as they approached, she watched them get closer until she was forced to step aside so they could pass.
"Do you smell that?" the woman said to the man as they slowed to a stop.
"Yes, it smells like roses. Excuse me," the man said, turning his head in the gypsy’s direction, "is someone selling roses?"
"Yes," she said, taking a step forward, "two dollars a piece."
"We’ll take one,” the man said, without hesitation. The gypsy returned the stem she’d been holding to the bunch. She studied her inventory for a few seconds before withdrawing another. The one she chose was fading. It seemed to have lost at least half of its petals, while those that remained were dark red at the tips and curled a little.
"There you are," she said, holding it out for the man.
"Thank you," he said, finding it, handing her two dollars. He brushed the woman's nose with the flower and she turned her head towards him to smell it. The gypsy, trying to see through the woman’s glasses, was caught by the reflection of the sun and looked back at the man. After the woman took a few measured breaths, they resumed holding hands and commenced their careful gate.
Retrieving the rose she’d held before the couple arrived, the gypsy commenced her mechanic rotation, vying for the attention of each passing pedestrian. She spun in assorted half-turns, her outstretched arm like the needle of a crazed compass. The tap-tap of one cane and the sweep of the other faded into the distance, until the couple’s counterpoint had been completely drowned out by the clamor of the impervious street.