A useless, shiny adjective.
Aria. Awake in bed, arms above her head, stomach rising and falling with breath. Ginger on her tongue. Abdomen, rye. Her mind, steel. Blackened. The pills only hurt, so she kicked without any help. Four years back. Four days of dread, brain snaps, tingles in her fingers and toes, palpitations. Heart on edge. Four more days of a hole in her chest. Withdrawals. Synthetic. Four more days of recovery, and four more days to clear the way.
Always kick on a Monday. Allow Sunday to be the gate.
She kicked on a Monday. Midnight to end Sunday. It had been that way with liquor, with cigarettes, with sugar. She put nothing in the way of feel. Her walls were plenty without help. Her father built the first one, but she had learned control with the first line of ink. Lightning strike, once to remain alone, forever. No other line would be so new. No other pain shocking. Graffiti for the walls, for her own understanding, for her understanding of alone. For her love with it, their affair. On her back. Quilt over glass. Moonrise.
—Four years back, she kicked on a Monday. Midnight. Sunday behind her to show the week it would give itself over or lose her. Wild pig days, itching blood. Taper Sunday to midnight. Clean sheets. Showered and in bed. Breathed up into the night, remembered a story of stars up there, the belt of Orion, the burning of light. Eskimos whose souls would find Heaven stepping up the stars of his belt. Three on the rise up. Open arms of somebody never dead. The story of it, the sadness.
Her sadness. A psalm of the city. A flower filled with blood. Unmoving.
A plant in her heart. It grew only when she shed what was not needed.
She was a flower grown from the city, and it was proud, so proud even death would not usurp her. Her skin graced by the city, the design, the product it pushed. She was vindicated through crawling up a victim. Now the faces of the city were there to keep the flower strong, to keep it alive. With the city as her only love, the nightmares had stopped with her addictions. The city saw to that. When the sadness would punctuate its reach, the city only moved faster to heal.
Her face in the mirror. Sunfall. The lights along the awnings breathed possibilities into the sidewalk, breathed sleaze. One stroke of eyeshadow twice, one carton of juice drained, and the elevator spat her out. The landlord smiled. Lobby. Aria gave her a nod, a late-night-at-the-office sigh, and the landlord laughed, watched her walk away, to someplace offering risks meaning memories. What she would not give to be in the skin, the youth of her, the years facing forward from her. Behind the counter, what the old woman would never know. The eyes of men and lesbians would mean much to her, the smell of the stage, the degenerates, as long as they would want her, she would give herself to them. The years behind the counter. The city was her thief, but she knew nothing righteous. Her eyes clung to the coat of Aria. Long, black. Her hair blue and white, the city opened with neon, prostrated in wait, when her boots would touch the concrete, the city would begin. The landlord looked away.
Aria disappeared through the door.
Tall Jack Coke. He drank half. Two drunks sat facing the bottles blocking the mirror. One drunk spoke to him, but the other cut him off, a pat on the forearm. The stranger spoke to no one but the bartender, and even now the words became one nod: Two shots, a pint, and a tall Jack Coke down the road. The drunk shrugged it off, and they focused on the two women. The bartender looked over the shoulder of the stranger, out the window, while Aria walked past for the place next door, where she would remain until four in the morning, where she would pull in more than any attorney in the city. The drunks and the women followed his stare. The drunks laughed at the bartender, his lust, they laughed along. They knew her silhouette as much as the others. Aria went into the building next door. The bartender shook his head and uttered one word.
Beautiful. The stranger stared into his glass. The word rested upon his lips, a dead thing. Beautiful. Did not come close. The word could not approach her. Aria. Beautiful. It cheapened her. Diluted.
A useless, shiny adjective.
The name was not lost on him. She was a flower reborn by the city. His. He would wait for the time to tell her what she was, when she would listen to him, when he would make the connection fixed for the time ahead. A flower. His. A child risen from the city, into his own. Like the plant from the blood of Robinson Jeffers, the line from the book had scratched him. Long scar. Unmoved beneath the sky her ghost set over him. The flower in his blood, Aria. Her fingers set in ink, born from the city, meant only to move through his hair. Moving through obsidian. Burn the film off his body. Nothing smelled as sweet as blood.
Her blood. It sat in his, trapped by him. When she would move he would feel it. Next door she would work the stage, the faces. When the other girls would spray and wipe the pole after their time, it made her sick, so she never went near it. Aria. No inversions, no slow slides down, no ascents to communize her, no bills handed to her or placed upon her. Their money, on the foot of the stage in front. The faces in the crowd, the look from them. The bodies beneath her. On stage, in dream to get her through, she would watch them burn to bone and ash. The other girls, how they went nude and often beyond, rejects of the city reaching for its grace. Outstretched, ignored. Aria, not once exposing her body as nude, not having to. Her mystery piped in from the city, the Moon on high, the lights and the sick things filtered for her, for the view of the city to keep it for its own. The city. The air as flesh, the rain as veins, the night sky as blood. Aria, her flesh as rain. Next door, the stranger finished his drink and walked out.
Silhouette walking west. The old man watched and it was no more. On his back there, dirt cooled, the night receding lighter. Torn back by dawn, when the city put him to sleep, when the light would bore the artists, the thinkers, the hunters. Light in the city, the expansion of lungs, only levered because it had to be. Tolerated. Daylight for the adopted. Loved just enough. They had to be there for business. Landscape and lifting. Commerce and order, base work. When the Sun would fail, the real blood woke and waited for the naked stars.
—From The Velocity of Ink, a book I wrote, and one I'm reading for Audible. Here's a link for the narration of the chapters above, if you want to hear it. Thanks to @Mamba for creating the photos to go along with the read on YouTube. Here's the link.
Here's the link to the book.