a t f v j k g d t f c i j r d w e y g f u p d e h k x s q t e g j v m j f u t a e s w g d r h t g j l r x n g e d v f e d s c t j b e u d q w o n d e r w h o w i l l s e e t h i s y k l r s w g n b p d o g r t l t k q a v d w t h u g d r b u r c w s f e h k u x r l v u b c t j p j l i s w g r d e g h e x v f e j u l x g e n m f i d v a r e f b h g j l t d e n g q w v s x c u d d q y v s i k r b g w x f y o h l y e s v x c r g p q r s d e k i g n t c z t h l u c d f s q e n w e h v r j i l t x f
In Existence for Another
Delicate hands lift me, shake me, smooth me over. Laid out in pristine fashion, mulled over. Angles and lines contemplated; bumps and curves unwanted, corrected.
Now folds and creases are imposed upon me. Twisted, contorted to the compartmentalized desire of the manipulator. Over and over and over. Reduced to a fraction of my area. An unnatural state. Tucked, patted, smoothed over once again until a state of perceived perfection is attained.
Delicate hands lift me, carry me, place me down. Light draws dim, banished from plain sight, only to be forgotten until the next time desire echoes in memory.
And so, the waiting begins (all over again)...
The Hotel Chelsea
Things are changing, and Nancy is restless.
She misses the old days, and she tells me so. We pass the time reminiscing while the landlord removes art from the walls. This hotel used to be colorful and vibrant in a slow-paced, Bohemian sort of way. It was the artistic heart of the city, a place where the broken and misunderstood were given a chance at survival without question or judgement.
Nancy and I used to live down the hall from one another. I would hole up in room 113 with two other girls, turning tricks for a few bucks, earning just enough to buy heroin from my supplier. When Nancy needed a hit, she’d come and see me. We would get high together, and it was in those moments we bonded behind a hazy curtain of carefree indifference.
Nancy and I weren’t always friends. This place, and our common interests, threw us together. You know...time and circumstance. She shared glimpses of her childhood with me; not at all intimate, but rather fragmented and disturbing shards of an incomplete puzzle. Words like suicide and schizophrenia peppered her conversations. She never asked me about my childhood, which was fine; I wouldn’t have been strong enough to relive the abuse my father put me through.
Nancy didn’t have to turn tricks to make money. Her boyfriend was famous, or at least he had been. They had enough money to live on, and party on, for a while. But when things got tight, they stole everything from food to drugs. She told her story like it was no big deal. It’s just the way things were.
She says she still runs into her boyfriend now and again. Every time I question Nancy about him, she immediately gets defensive. He’s harmless, she says dismissively with a wave of her hand, as if brushing away a thought she doesn’t want to be weighed down by.
Nancy’s agitated state has become more pronounced recently. She wanders the halls aimlessly, passing the time without direction or destination. It’s as if she’s trying to find her way through a dense fog, frustrated. She’s looking for something; she knows it’s right there in front of her, and she can’t see it...
And then it dawns on me.
We stroll through the hotel lobby, and I say to her, “You know, Nancy, it wasn’t Sid.”
Her head snaps in my direction, her eyes wide and focused, like someone has just stuck smelling salts under her nose. She accidentally bumps into a chair, and the few people in the lobby are startled by the action.
“What do you mean?” she asks me.
“Sid was falsely accused. It was an accident,” I reply.
Now Nancy is studying me, like I’m speaking in some sort of alien tongue.
“You don’t remember anything, do you,” I say.
She drops her head and stays like that for a moment, staring at the linoleum floor.
“I was so messed up that night, everything is still a blur.”
“Well, I wasn’t.”
Nancy lifts her head and is staring at me again, waiting to hear what I have to say.
“I came to see you that night. I knocked on the door and no one answered. It was unlocked, so I walked in. Sid was completely passed out on the bed, drunk I figured. As I called your name, I heard a noise from the bathroom.”
Nancy’s eyes got even wider, as if this was the first time she was hearing this story, her own story.
“I had just gotten some cocaine from a friend. I had the baggie and a knife in my hand when I found you leaning over the sink, already high as a kite. You turned around and lunged at me, trying to grab the baggie. I told you to stop, but you wouldn’t listen. You practically threw yourself at me, and onto my knife.”
As Nancy listened, I could tell it was all new to her. A mixture of sadness and relief seemed to envelop her, washing away any sense of doubt. Closure was the only gift I had left to give.
Nancy looked at me, nodded her head, and smiled. Without another word, she headed over to the lobby entrance and drifted through the wall.
She was finally free.