He rose to his knees and hovered over her on the twin- sized bed of his small townhouse bedroom. The desk had books on it thrown about and the TV, which sat on top of the frame, was on a sports network she did not recognize. He had piles and piles of shoeboxes under his bed next to his storage bins of clothes, drawer, and mini fridge. His closet stood tall in a corner topped with empty alcohol bottles, deodorants, lotions, and shampoos. The walls were blank and emotionless like his stare.
“This elevator is a piece of shit.” The extremely abrasive assistant manager, Becky, spoke aggressively with her hair in a bun tied tight enough to give someone a migraine. She furiously pressed the 5th floor button repeatedly as if that would make the elevator unstuck. She stood tall at 5’11’’ in heels and wore her resting bitch face proudly. Her anger probably has something to do with her lack of promotion after being the assistant manager for eight years.
The waitress flashes a forced smile at me probably wishing to be anywhere but Frog Pond Diner. The booths had rusted springs that poked through the harsh plastic cover, the walls were discolored and stained with grease, and mice dropped in like it was their vacation home. The staff was depressed, the food was mediocre, and all of our regulars are retired men and women that sit on a cup of coffee for two hours.
Today I pretend that I am a bush woman, collecting firewood for my fire, my knife sharpened to carve goddess figurines when the chores are done. But I know this is a choice. It is just as likely today that I might click the up button on the thermostat, and those “chores” involve little more than merely feeding our excess into machines that do the work for me.
It was a cold September evening when I happened to witness a fairly peculiar sight. It was a young man, handsome in his straight suit and ebony tie, equipped with gold cufflinks, quite the smile, and all around charm that it nearly made me jealous. He sat lonesome on a bench beneath a streetlight, quite cliché, with a bottle of whiskey and a somber attitude to match, the glow of the stars reflecting the green in his eyes as he seemed to mull something over in the space between his brows.
You ever get your arm caught in a lawnmower? I did once, when I was 6. It wasn’t fun, let me tell you. I lost my entire right hand just past the wrist. It was, and still is, the second single most painful and scary experience of my entire life, even now, 13 years later.
For a while, I thought I knew what it felt like, the dread that accompanied the Unknown reaches of darkening night. For years I have waged wars in my sleep and come away scathed and wounded, though always stronger. I believed that I had taken a step into the wilderness and that it had become my battleground, both familiar and safe. I knew what to do. I knew how to vanquish my demons. But I guess the Unknown held no limitations when it came to sucking me under.
“Immortality!” The words dripped from Cassandra’s lips as she explained her cause to Hugo. This was the passion, the desire, Cassandra had been known for all of her life; it would drive her, consume her, and- if the tone in her voice was any indication -she would not stop until the subject of it was hers.
My heart shattered with a single ambiguous text message.
I walked to my last class of the day on a crisp afternoon, the sun playing games with the clouds and the breeze teasing my hair. I went into the building and approached the staircase as my phone vibrated in my back pocket.