Persephone's Wake

Persephone's Wake

Status: In Progress

Genre: Literary Fiction

Houses:

Details

Status: In Progress

Genre: Literary Fiction

Houses:

Summary

This "in progress" novel follows the life of a young woman raised in squalor by an ill, addicted mother. At age nine, she is abandoned to the care of an elderly couple plagued by senility. After her comfortable, albeit strange, life ends with the old couple, she is thrust into the urban world as a teenager with nothing of her own—not even the knowledge who she is. Before long, her reckless lifestyle and nihilistic attitude result in her death by overdose. However, she is resurrected by an adrenaline shot to the heart and the dejected, melancholy professional man who finds her with a needle in her arm. Having recently lost his wife and daughter to tragedy, the man finds this lovely young woman—with the age of hardship in her physical presence and exuberance of youth in her countenance—the perfect way to fill the void left by both his wife and daughter. A series of passionate encounters, tumultuous conflicts, and sobering revelations transpire as the man frantically tries to save the woman from her destructive past. Simultaneously, the woman—keenly aware of her lack of identity—attempts to discover herself with the assistance of a younger, more impulsive man. In the end, the newly clean and sober Edna must choose between the man who saved her and the man whose recklessness revived her spirit
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Summary

This "in progress" novel follows the life of a young woman raised in squalor by an ill, addicted mother. At age nine, she is abandoned to the care of an elderly couple plagued by senility. After her comfortable, albeit strange, life ends with the old couple, she is thrust into the urban world as a teenager with nothing of her own—not even the knowledge who she is. Before long, her reckless lifestyle and nihilistic attitude result in her death by overdose. However, she is resurrected by an adrenaline shot to the heart and the dejected, melancholy professional man who finds her with a needle in her arm. Having recently lost his wife and daughter to tragedy, the man finds this lovely young woman—with the age of hardship in her physical presence and exuberance of youth in her countenance—the perfect way to fill the void left by both his wife and daughter. A series of passionate encounters, tumultuous conflicts, and sobering revelations transpire as the man frantically tries to save the woman from her destructive past. Simultaneously, the woman—keenly aware of her lack of identity—attempts to discover herself with the assistance of a younger, more impulsive man. In the end, the newly clean and sober Edna must choose between the man who saved her and the man whose recklessness revived her spirit

Chapter1 (v.1) - Persephone's Life

Author Chapter Note

This is the first five chapters. The first chapter is quite rough and needs something, but I don't know what. Please read on and I think you will like the rest. Feel free to comment with ideas for the exposition.

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: February 04, 2017

Reads: 14

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: February 04, 2017

A A A

A A A

I

An innocent child and a seasoned woman living together in the same body sharing the same musings and mourning the same lost childhood.  A tattered dream or two intertwined with the struggles of life on an unforgiving street.  Her boundless beauty infringed upon by the dirt and dismay of living hand to mouth and cocaine to heroin.  She sat alone in a dark room with a makeshift bed and a plastic pillow.  Her tears filled her eyes and her hands shook with intermittent tremors.  Her sobs were quiet and subdued as she was afraid to let anyone have the best of her.  Crying loudly and sharing her grief would be weak and the street had taught her that weakness invites the worst from people.  So, instead, she sat and sobbed with tremendous will power to keep those sobs silent.  She counted the bricks in the wall.  Each giving way to the other without any meaning.  Just something to keep her from wanting to scream.  Who was she?  She didn’t even know.  Her life had been so tumultuous and fractured.  She only knew her name and wasn’t even sure if that was correct.  Outside the white door, she heard subdued voices and the rustling of clothing.

“Who is she?”

“I dunno.  Haven’t seen her before.”

“Who brought her in?”

“The cops.  Said they found her ranting and raving in the street.  When they told her to get off the road, she sat down and wouldn’t budge.  She says she’s sick of it all.”

“Suicidal?

“That’s why you’re here isn’t it?  I just hold them down and watch’em.”

“I guess we’ll soon find out.  Where is she?”

“She’s in the quiet room behind the office.  Want me to get her for you?”

“No, not right now.  Was she still agitated when they brought her in?”

“She was mad as hell, but she went where I told her.  There’s something about her though.”

“What do you mean?”

“She just seems different than a lot of the people we get in here.  She might be somewhat normal in there somewhere.”

“Let’s take a peek.  She give anyone her name?”

“Not that I know of, the cops said they had to force her into the car and she was kicking away in the back seat.  She really hasn’t said anything since she’s been here.”  The large man led the smaller, older one toward the back of the examining area and around the office.  Once near the holding room, the two men lazily crept to the door and the older man peered inside.  A look of recognition appeared on the clinician’s face as he heeded the young girl inside.  He had dealt with her before. 

“Why’d the cops bring her here?  They should know we can’t do anything for her.  They should have just put her in a holding cell for the night.”

“Why?  You work with her before? 

“Yeah, she came in six months ago.  Said someone told her to come here for mental help.  I talked to her for an hour and all I could determine was that she needed drug abuse treatment.  She definitely wasn’t in need of psychiatric hospitalization.  She was oriented to time and place, was cognitive, and cooperative.  Most important, she wasn’t in any mental health crisis.  She’s a junky.  All we can really do is try to refer her over to I.A,R.C. for an assessment.  Problem is, they are so backed up, they are only doing phone screenings in the afternoon and this girl is homeless.”

“So what did you do, send her out the back door?”

“No, I explained to her that this is a mental health crisis center and we handle emergency hospitalizations and other crises related to mental illness.  I told her I could not determine if she was having a mental health crisis while she was high and the most I could do was refer her to IARC to get some help for the addiction.  She cried a lot and said she’d “been there, done that!”  So I sent her to emergency.  She didn’t stay there and I never saw her again until now.”

The therapist continued to watch the girl through the glass window.  She was sitting Indian style on the little bed and rocking rhythmically back and forth.  She was young and terribly unkempt.  Yet, the therapist couldn’t help to agree with the transporter that she was striking in some odd way.  She appeared to know that she was being watched, but refused to look up, preferring instead to continue gazing at the concrete wall in front of her.  The therapist shook his head and turned to his companion; “After I saw her last time, I asked around if any of the other agencies knew her and found that they all did.  She’s been in county jail so many times I’m surprised she’s not in prison. Odyssey told me that they tried helping her as best they could, but they simply couldn’t waste anymore resources on someone who obviously wasn’t ready for help.  The county agency surrendered her to the Sheriff and I guess this is the only place they can take her.”

“What are you going to do?”  The transporter seemed genuinely concerned, but with a skepticism that was typical of someone working in this field.  “Can you refer her to a shelter or something?”

“Well, I tried that the last time.  The Safe Haven for Women, The Women’s Shelter, and the Mission have her blacklisted because of altercations she was involved in.  I don’t know what to do.”  The clinician sighed, “she’ll probably be dead in a year.”  He then turned abruptly and walked away requesting that the transporter bring her into the interview room in fifteen minutes.

He sat down at his desk.  His aging joints popped as he settled in and prepared for the monotonous interview that would soon follow.  The girl was brought in and helped to the seat across from him as the transporter reassured that he would be right outside if he was needed.  The girl was frustrated, but, like the last time he had seen her, she also displayed a familiar willingness to talk.  The therapist didn’t say anything, at first, but instead, he studied her affect and appearance looking for signs of psychosis.  He didn’t see any.  She had the appropriate affect of someone hauled into a crisis center by police and her motor skills showed no signs of excessive problems.  She was filthy, but he doubted her poor hygiene resulted from lack of insight, as much as from lack of resources.  He saw that his silence was unsettling for her, so he began the interview.  “Hi, my name is John Waterson.  I’m a therapist for Community Mental Health.  I believe we’ve seen each other before.  Do you remember me?

“Why should I remember you?  I’ve been in a lot of little rooms like this and talked to a lot of people.  I haven’t met a damn one that was so remarkable that I’d remember him!”

“Well, I have to ask you a couple questions anyway, alright?”

“If I say no will you let me leave?”  The girl looked at John with a peculiar stare, but it seemed as though she was enjoying the confrontation.  She knew why she was here and she wasn’t impressed by his position.  Indeed, it was apparent that she wanted him to know this.  “Listen, I haven’t the time to sit here while you glare at me and try to hypnotize me with your philanthropic stare.  I don’t give a shit about you or your questions, so why don’t we just call it over and I’ll get out of your way?”

John smiled lazily.  He was impressed by her vocabulary and articulation.  He began to scribble tiny faces and cartoon dogs on his note pad.  He wasn’t a stranger to clientele who despised him.  When you bud into other people’s lives and minds, you learn to be gracious toward the hatred.  Nevertheless, this girl was different.  Underneath her crude disposition and appearance, something eloquent parodied the overwhelming reality of her wasted lifestyle.  In fact, John detected a rather pious attitude, which resembled more of an aristocratic background rather than a street junky.  He couldn’t decide how to feel about her, yet he knew that he couldn’t just let her leave.  If the police brought her here because of suicidal behavior, John had to rule the threat out before she could walk away.  “I am deeply sorry that you feel that way; however, I can’t let you leave right yet.  The police brought you here because they feel you need some help.  Once they left, we became responsible for your welfare.  But, if you cooperate and answer some simple questions, hopefully you can go on your way.”

“Ok, ask your damn questions, but don’t think you can psychoanalyze me in twenty minutes, because I am not that easy!”

“No, I don’t expect that you are.”  John giggled, amused at her declaration.  He knew from the moment she sat down that she was much more complex than the stereotypical junky.  Indeed, simply her appearance was unique in itself; therefore, John couldn’t imagine why her mind and emotions would be any different.  Suddenly, it occurred to him that he hadn’t retrieved her file from the previous visit, but he didn’t want to interrupt the interview to get it.  Therefore, although, he agreed with her declaration, he would have to begin with the customary and obvious questions.  “First of all, what is your name and where do you live?”

“My name is Edna and I live in Flint.”  She smiled softly and wryly, she had been going through a lot and welcomed the normality of conversation.  “I don’t have an address or anything, but I do alright for myself.”

John shuddered before beginning the ridiculous line of questioning that was used to determine a patient’s orientation.  Many of the folks he saw were well oriented and offended by the questions; therefore, the possible anger he could induce in this one made him a little nervous.  Besides, since it was obvious she was very well oriented to her situation and surroundings, John also expected a lot of sarcasm in her answers.  He was wrong.  She answered each question calmly and matter-of-factly without ever rousing to roll her eyes.  What year is it?  What state are we in?  How old are you?  Do you know where you are right now?  Do you know why you are here?  Who is the President of the United States?  Edna answered each question and John wrote down that she was, indeed, well-oriented.  He moved on to the incident that brought her here.  “You stated that the reason you are here is because you were ‘losing it’ and wouldn’t get out of the street.  Can you tell me what caused you to lose it?”

“I was coming off a high and needed some more.  I get crazy when I need more.  I couldn’t get a hold of myself.  You ever feel like that?”

“I can’t say I’ve ever needed anything so bad that I jumped around in a street risking my life, no.  But I’m not the one that had to be hauled in here tonight; you are.  Let’s try to keep our conversation focused on that.  When was the last time you used?”

“About three hours before the cops brought me here.  Why you got some?”  Edna was joking, but the question made John uneasy.  He never understood the power of addictions and always found himself at a loss when confronted with it.  The simple truth in her question roused a feeling of futility in John that, although familiar, nevertheless hindered his ability to genuinely care about his job.  However, as it stood with Edna’s mental state, he didn’t see any evidence of suicidal aspiration.  He saw a young junky who came down from her high and behaved accordingly.  Although he needed to ask more questions, it looked as though he’d have to send her to emergency for detox before he could really help her.

“How did you pay for the drugs?”

Edna’s posture abruptly fell into her seat and, for a brief moment, John thought she might fall.  Instead, she began to cry with genuine pain.  Her limbs shaking radically, she sobbed violently and John let her.  He was accustomed to watching people capitulate like this and believed it very important for healing; however, John wasn’t fooled that this outburst of emotion was a first step to rehabilitation.  He was convinced that even a near death experience would be hard pressed to create a change in her.  Nevertheless, John listened attentively when Edna slowly ceased to cry and tried to answer his question, “I gave a man a blow job behind a dumpster for ten dollars.  I don’t know why I….”  Edna began crying even more fervently now.  She was obviously tormented and John figured the prostitution was the real reason for her episode in the street.  He inquired whether she had done that kind of thing before.

“Only twice.  Twice and that’s it!  God damn it, it makes me so sick to think about it.  I just want to get out of here and never look back again!  The sorry son of a bitch even thought it was fun to pull my hair while I was doing it.  Fucking bastard!”  Edna became more agitated.  Her hands were shaking violently and she was gripping tightly to her legs to get the shakes to stop.  Finally, she looked at John with a contorted expression expecting him to condemn her for her evils.  John, on the other hand, was wondering how she could be a street junky for so long and only turn two tricks.  It seemed an honest question, really.  How is it that she could afford her drugs for so long without resorting to prostitution regularly and early on?  He didn’t know a delicate way of posing this inquiry, so he simply asked her.  While Edna was considering the question, the phone rang.  John answered and nodded a lot while speaking into the phone with affirmative statements.  Apparently, a man from a local group home had been brought in kicking and screaming.  The girl on the other line informed him that the man had jumped through a picture window and, although he miraculously avoided injury, he was obviously in a state of extreme psychosis.  John excused himself from the interview room and assigned a transporter to watch Edna.  He only had to take one look at the gentleman to see that he needed an immediate sedative and then hospitalization.  He called the doctor upstairs who ordered the sedative and promised to send an orderly to bring the man up to the psyche ward.  John waited impatiently for the nurse to bring the shot while the man struggled with futility against the restraints.  Finally, the nurse came with the orderlies and John was able to return to Edna.

When he reentered the room, Edna was sitting Indian style again, but her shaking hadn’t stopped.  Her body was screaming for more drugs and she heard it loud and clear.  He sat down at the desk and considered her again with even deeper contemplation and finally asked, “where were we?”

“Well you insinuated that you felt I should be a prostitute just because I am homeless!’

“I did not insinuate that.  If I made any insinuation to that fact it was because of your drug addiction and nothing to do with your housing status.  So what is it?  How did you get by?”

“I stole, alright?  I stole, and I stole a lot.  I stole from everyone and everything!  But, sometimes, I just couldn’t find anything to take and on those occasions I would find other ways of getting it.”

“And what were those?”

“Well, I had dealers that knew I was good for it and would let me by for awhile.  But I just kept getting higher and higher and stealing became too difficult, so I did what I had to do.”

“You don’t seem to have liked doing it.  Don’t you think that maybe you should kick the drugs at this point?”

“Do you think it’s that fucking easy?  Do you think I just sit here and tell you, Oh yes, indeed, I’ve finally realized that drugs are bad and after having that animal’s cum in my teeth, I now know that I’ve been fooling myself?  Do you really think it’s that easy?”  Edna looked at John without really expecting an answer.  She wanted to hear that he understood, but how could he.  He had never sat in the darkness of a damp stinking hallway while the man across from him slowly died with a creamy white drool carefully forming around his mouth.  He had never ignored something like that while lighting up the pipe and looking the other way.  He had never laughed at it after the drug had reached his brain and made him once again whole and invincible.  He couldn’t understand the torment or the pleasure.  Yet, she wanted someone to understand and wave the wand of her salvation to bring her back into some fold of reality and life.  “I’d like to quit and I want to quit, but I won’t!  I can’t fool myself to think otherwise.”

“Then, I guess you’ll just have to get used to the men and the taste, if you’ll pardon me in saying so.  Do you think you could ever get used to it?”

“Well this girl I know says the first few times are the worst.  She says sucking dick for money always feels like death, but you get used to dying.”

“Do you want to die?”

“Hell no!  Do you?  Who the hell wants to die?”

“How do you explain the fact that while sitting in the middle of a busy street you told two police officers that you were sick of it all and wanted it to end?”

“I already told you, I was coming off and I get like that sometimes.  It wasn’t a big deal and I would’ve come to my senses soon enough.”

“Before a car ran you over?”  John realized his question was rhetorical and continued,  “Do you get like that often.  I mean do you feel like you want it to end more than just once in a while?”

“No, not that much at all.  Hey listen, this is getting really old and I can’t stand to sit here and look at you much longer.  I do not want to die and I don’t intend to kill myself…. so can I go?”

“I believe you.  I’m confident that you’re not going to kill yourself, but that shaking and the pain is going to get worse before it gets better.  How are you going to handle it?  Are you going to get high after you leave here?”

“Probably!  Why the fuck do you care?  I’m not mentally ill, so I’m not your responsibility, so why don’t you just give it up!”

John looked gravely at the strange woman in front of him.  When he first saw her he had thought her a girl.  But it was quite obvious that this twenty-year-old creature was not a girl at all.  She was a woman, a tormented and screwed up woman, but a woman nonetheless.  Yet, woman or girl, he didn’t see anything more that he could do for her tonight except send her to the emergency room and hope she would stick around to detox.  However, he wanted to do more.  “I can’t do much for you right this minute.  In order for us to get you regular treatment through CMH, you have to go through Access for a comprehensive assessment and receive a diagnosis code.  Once you’ve received one, the agency will assign you a therapist who will help you work out some of your problems.  However, Medicaid has really cracked down on authorized services and chronic substance abuse rarely qualifies these days as a primary diagnosis.  In fact, we do very little substance abuse therapy and you’ve pretty much burnt all the bridges with other agencies, am I correct about that?”

“Yeah, I’ve been put just about everywhere except prison….they don’t even want me!”

“Well, then this is what I suggest.  First of all, you should go over to emergency with Larry.  He’s the transporter you met when you arrived.  He’ll help you sign in.  Stay there tonight and try to stay sober.  You can call this number tomorrow,” John handed over a card with the number for CMH’s Access center onto which he had written I.A.R.C.’s number on the back.  “Call them and they will set up an appointment to see a screener and then keep the appointment.  And from now on if you feel like you want to end everything, don’t wait until you are in the middle of the road before you get help.  Come directly here and someone will talk to you, Okay?”

“Sure, whatever.  Can I go?”

“Yeah, I’ll tell Larry to walk you over to emergency.  Hold on just a minute.”  John walked out of the room and found Larry sitting at a small table reading some cheap paperback with a ridiculous name.  John stated he knew it was futile; nevertheless, he still wanted Larry to walk Edna to emergency.  Curious, Larry asked about the interview and the two went over the details while Edna sat in the interview room waiting for her escort.

As she sat there she could not overcome her curiosity in his note pad.  He had been scribbling all over it during the interview.  She wondered what he could have written other than the stupid slut is upset that she has to suck dick to get her caine and she’s pissed it isn’t free!  Edna slowly stretched over the desk and saw that he had plenty more to say than that.  One line read the young lady speaks very well for someone who is strung out.  She’s either well educated, well read, or simply very smart.  The next statement was written in large letters randomly across the page; Damn she’s beautiful!  Too bad!!!!  Edna saw this and felt both angry and sad at the same time.  She didn’t remember ever being called beautiful or smart.  She was angry that this funny little man would be considering her physical attributes while she was sitting in front of him lamenting the horrors of her life.  What a callous little troll!  Fuck him!  She was well read and she was smart.  She didn’t care if he thought so or not, but beauty was a whole other story.  The truth was she didn’t even remember what she was supposed to look like.  Her appearance was the result of plenty of cold nights in the open and even more passed out inside some filthy house that had been condemned to be shared by her, a few nasty old men, and the rats.  The only thing of which she was certain at this point was she was glad to be out of this constricted room and away from the troll.  In fact, her only consolation was that she had experienced a real conversation with a real person.  Thank God for state funding.  Who else would ever talk to her?

Larry finally came in and asked if she was ready to go.  Before they left, John poked in and implored her to call the number he had offered.  He was sincere when he told her that it was her last avenue of help.  Additionally, he was confident that there was something in her head that could be worked out.  Therefore, he stressed the importance of her following up and left her to Larry’s competent hands.  Larry walked her to the door and they took a short stroll around the building through the city hospital’s emergency parking area.  They proceeded through the double doors and Larry left her sitting in an uncomfortable chair in the emergency room.  He approached the girl at the sign in counter and appeared to know her.  While they chatted and giggled over incidental and mundane conversation, Edna noticed an innocent little girl sitting to her right.  The girl was around five and had large eyes filled with apprehension as she stared at her arm wrapped in a bloody towel.  Her mother looked haggard and exhausted while the girl’s blood dripped slowly onto her naked knee and slid down to her shoes.  The mom never noticed and the girl continued to gaze helplessly at her wound.  She finally looked up and saw Edna watching her.  The frightened eyes moved Edna.  She smiled, wanting to express that everything was going to be okay.  Yet, the girl saw the smile leaking through Edna’s dirt caked, shaking face as threatening and immediately turned away from the offer of solace.

Larry returned to where Edna was sitting and informed her that someone would help her shortly.  She was visibly distraught and the layers of sweat forming on her arms began to scatter from the intensity of her shakes.  She tried to offer Larry at least a smile of gratitude, but it obviously came off badly, because Larry just said “whatever” and walked out.  Edna sat in her seat for another few minutes.  She closed her eyes and realized how tired she was and how badly she hurt.  She ran her fingers through her hair and encountered snarls.  There was no mystery about what had caused them. She had frightened the little girl and, because of this, realized she wasn’t even human anymore.  Instead, she was a beast who didn’t deserve to accept the same help this place could give the girl.  Fuck the little bitch!  Edna stood up and walked out of the hospital.

 

II

 

An innocent child and a seasoned woman living together in the same body sharing the same musings and mourning the same lost childhood.  A tattered dream or two intertwined with the struggles of life on an unforgiving street.  Her beauty infringed upon by the dirt and dismay of living hand to mouth and cocaine to cocaine.  She sat alone in a dark room with a makeshift bed and a plastic pillow.  Her tears filled her eyes and her hands shook with intermittent tremors.  Her sobs were quiet and subdued as she was afraid to let anyone have the best of her.  Crying loudly and sharing her grief would be weak and the street had taught her that weakness invites the worst from people.  So, instead, she sat and sobbed with tremendous will power to keep those sobs silent.  She counted the bricks in the wall.  Each giving way to the other without any meaning.  Just something to keep her from wanting to scream.  Who was she?  She didn’t even know.  Her life had been so tumultuous and fractured.  She heard voices outside the solid door and knew she had made a mistake.  She saw the world in simple terms, with simple personalities, and simple people.  Yet, her experiences taught her otherwise.  She had made a mistake coming to the center for help.  She burst through the door and navigated the hallways until she reached the exit. 

The night was shattered like glass as she staggered through the pitch, chaotic buildings with boarded up windows and decayed doors.  Street lights wreaking havoc on the cracked sidewalks and an occasional voice could be heard stalking somewhere in the darkness.  Indeed, she was reminded of some remote forest known only for its legends of magic and monsters.  The idea sent her into convulsions of fear, guilt, and remorse.  However, the guilt was from the sins she had perpetrated on herself and the remorse was for what she would never be.  She felt nothing for the multitude of faces that accosted her memory during feverish dreams.  She felt nothing for the other beings that inhabited this same world.  Why should she?  She was not, nor had ever been, one of them.  Oh, but for her sins on herself, she deeply wept. She was enveloped in these and knew no easy trails out of the darkness.  Therefore, she continued to stumble through the endless black of the city.  Shaking, weeping, searching.

She came across a man standing alone underneath a burnt out street light.  He was casually puffing on a cigarette and watching her with great interest.  He waited for her to approach and abruptly turned to face her.  Startled, Edna backed up several paces and studied his eyes for some clue as to what he had in mind.  He was amused at the fear he struck in her.  Yet, her intentions were not a secret and it was apparent that he was completely aware of what she was after.  Edna soon realized this and became more at ease.  He asked what she wanted and how much money she had.  Edna answered the only way she could.  She was flat broke and wondered if he would trust her for a dime.  “Bitch, I don’t know you from any other ho round here.  How you think I’m gonna give it away?”

“Come on, man.  You’ve seen me around here, you know I’m good for it.  I’ll do whatever you want, come on, don’t play me like that.”

“You say anything I want?  Bitch you’d better mean that, come on, yo.”

The man began to walk toward a dark house where Edna heard garrulous voices arguing inside.  The windows were covered on the inside with dark blankets and the porch was nearly falling apart.  The man almost fell while ascending the steps to the front door.  Before they could get all the way up the porch, the door sprung open and a heavy-set, black man yelled, “Who the fucks there?”

“Tommy, man.  Chill out.  What you all doing in there?”

“Playing Nintendo, motherfucker.  What’s it to you?  Who that skanky bitch with you?”

“This my ho I told you I’d bring by some time.  You all wanna take a break from the games for a quick?  She’s ready for whatever.”  The man turned to look at Edna with an inquisitive and demanding stare, “Ain’t that right, bitch?”

Edna hesitated as she felt her stomach rise into her throat.  She didn’t need it that bad.  She’d get by until she found someway to get some money.  However, the lies couldn’t fool her shaking hands and sweating brow.  She looked back at her first ever pimp and nodded a feeble yes, “anything you want!”

The fat guy went back inside and a discussion rang out in the group of men.  They talked quietly and this made Edna’s uneasiness grow, but she continued to stand her ground.  She’d do whatever necessary to please the man who held her heaven.  Fat Boy came back out and motioned for the two to enter the house.  As she stepped into the smoky room, she choked on the strong odor of marijuana permeating the air.  Several guys, five exactly, sat around a small TV and looked at her with amusement.  Just abother crack head bitch to suck all their dicks.  Fat Boy motioned to a slender, white man with baggy jeans, a designer tee shirt, and an ugly scar across his face.  He was to go first.  Edna looked at the pimp, Tommy, and implored him for some empathy.  Her look begged him to give her the drug first before she swan dove into this new profession.  However, Tommy simply shoved her toward Scar and told her to get to it. 

Edna took one more look around and turned to Scar who was opening his jeans so she could better see her project.  The smell of the house began to choke her.  The ghastly faces of the expectant men mingled with a ghoulish vision of their penises mocking her.  Tommy smiled a toothless smile and she heard laughter from the TV, also mocking her, but scolding her at the same time.  She began to feel light-headed and the room began to turn in terribly slow motion.  Even Scar’s pathetic weapon hung out now, in defiance of her pain.  She slowly knelt down on her knees and gingerly grabbed the penis with shaking fingers.  The smell of sweat and urine accosted her nostrils and she drew her lips closer.  The dirty scarred bastard probably hadn’t showered in a week.  Moments later, eyes filled with tears and a tremendous effort to keep her teeth from chattering, she placed her lips around the acrid cock.  However, at that precise moment, it all became too much.  She burst upright, turned toward the door, and sprinted out.  She nearly toppled off the decaying porch, but, once she hit the street, a strange force took control of her and she ran faster than she ever remembered.  Her heart was racing faster than her feet as she imagined Scar closing in to punish her for being a tease.  The footsteps behind her seemed to grow closer and closer, but as she began choking for air, she realized the footsteps were her own.  Her new pimp was too fragile a man to bother chasing her and it seemed that Fat Boy, Scar, and company didn’t care enough about the ethics of whores to bother chasing.  She was safe for now, but her shaking was more violent and the pain felt like God was in her muscles punishing her as a vengeful God will do.

She continued to walk through the darkness now with less ease and looking more like a feeble ghost than any sort of natural thing.  She came to a park that was darker than the city and more haunting.  As she looked for someplace to hide herself and crawl into a ball, she saw Terry.  Terry was a fiend also, but he had rich parents who never failed to finance his disease.  Terry was also the only other junky she could tolerate.  Sure he was pitiful and ignorant, but he was terribly kind.  Maybe generous was a better word for it.  Edna staggered to him and didn’t waste any time.  Do you got anything, man?  Of course!  Whenever she ran into him, he was more than happy to oblige.  He handed her a rather generous chunk of the yellowed drug and told her she would have to smoke alone.  He began to walk away, but Edna begged him to stay.  “Man, the shits getting worse lately.  I fall apart so quickly and I’m getting scared.  Please stay with me for awhile.  At least till this brings me up.  Please?”

“Sorry, hon.  I called my folks today and they told me my little brother got hit by a car.  Can you believe that shit?  Some drunk bastard turned the corner and swerved into him.  It was only three o’clock in the afternoon.  Bastard was driving drunk at 3 o’clock.  Anyway he’s really bad and I can’t stay here.  I gotta keep myself high and go to the hospital.”  Terry smiled at her one last time and turned to walk away, but stopped after a few steps.  He turned and shouted “Edna you’re too good for this shit, you know?”  He didn’t wait for an answer.  In a few moments, he was hidden within the darkness.  Edna remained within her own darkness, at least for now.

The pipe felt normal, almost genetic, between her chapped, bloody lips.  The sounds in the park and from the surrounding neighborhood clamored into her head with insistent barking, similar to ordinary dogs, but from hell.  The earth beneath her was icy and moving with terrible force.  Nausea accosted her as her aching fingers groped for the lighter in her pocket.  Her other hand held the pipe religiously.  She tried to suck in air through the stuffed passages of her nose with little success, but she refused to release the pipe from her lips even if God himself demanded it.  As violent lightning streaked the broken sky and the trees reached out to choke her, she lit the powerful rock.  Burning smoke beat past her tonsils and ignited in her lungs while blisters began to form on her lips.  Moments later her shaking gradually subsided and everything became calm.

Early on in her addiction, the drug would make her high and invincible.  She would gain enough energy to run the Crim while her mind would fill with delusions of grandeur.  However, now it had different effects.  Indeed, it no longer gave her energy, instead it merely allowed her to rest by calming the violent pain in her limbs and clearing her mind of demons.  She needed to rest her limbs and her mind.  Stumbling in euphoric fantasy, Edna found her way to a flower garden toward the south end of the park.  Flowers with names she had long since forgotten introduced themselves to her senses with cheerful delight.  A wooden marker identified it as the work of the North Side Neighborhood Association.  Edna dropped to her knees and, gurgling like a toddler, crawled into a white carpet of flowers and wrapped herself within the warmth of the petals.  Surrounded by the sweet fragrances, she peered into the now calm, star filled sky.  Nothing could hurt her here.  Swimming in delightful delusions, she drifted away into luxurious sleep.  Lucid and loud within the loosening constraints of her mind, dreams brought her to a balanced state of order and unity, a brief garden existing only in temporary truths provided by her pipe.  These calming dreams took her back through the agony of the previous weeks, months, and years.

A cloudy mist enveloped the early morning streets where she had wandered out of a small, abandoned house on Stockton the day before.  Ghastly creatures, mostly those that defied the stereotypes of urban blight, slid hypnotically past her toward the bus stops, moving their devil eyes from her in short, robotic ticks.  Even those who inhabited this impoverished inner city attempted to deny that she existed by avoiding eye contact.  She felt like the unwanted ghosts of so many stories she had read long ago when she was young.  Yet, she floated past them that morning with the same stubborn defiance and unconscious motivation as always.  Why demand from ignorance a greater ignorance?  Instead, she struggled on in silence, tripping now and then on the cracked cement of the neglected walks, searching for a familiar face to appear out of the misty air.  She walked all morning encountering no one that would profess to be her savior and keep her from falling deeper into death.  Around noon, with the bustle of city traffic mixing with the moans of hungry infants, Edna found the one person she trusted to do her right.  She staggered next to him at the back of the liquor store and in slow motion uttered her request.  While looking into his sober, clean eyes, she saw, indifferently, that they were crimson and burning like a demon.  His smile revealed small, pointed teeth, like a bat’s, while his lips seemed painted black.  However, the low fog swept past and when cleared away, she realized he was simply the same dope man he had always been.  Nevertheless, he wasn’t going to be her savior.  Instead, he growled his contempt for her and demanded money she owed him.  Dejected, miserable and suddenly frantic, Edna begged for what he had.  He had no idea how badly she needed it this time.

The dream of memories continued through her sleep providing her morbid pleasure in knowing these things as real, but over.  The drug-induced sleep allowed her to examine events from a distance with objectivity, as though she had become the therapist she had sought out only hours before.  The clouded memories floated even farther back to before she had walked out onto the streets that morning.  She saw herself sleeping in the cluttered hallway of a small, condemned house across from a needle junky.  He had been much older than she, but equally tormented.  Going against her usual emotional harshness, she had pitied him.  He talked with her in low monotones and weak breaths while fixing his needle with the brown poison.  She listened to his mildly amusing stories as she lit up her own poison.  His words became brilliantly poetic once the drug had done its magic to her mind.  He stated he was thirty-three and had been using drugs all his life.  He told her, repeatedly, that this was his last fix, ever.  Moreover, he was going to get treatment and would succeed this time.  This time he could do it, but once more, just once, only another time and he could quit and that would be that! 

She stared at the needle dangling from his neck.  It was distorting the shape of his neck and turning the area blue.  He had just left it there to drift away in delusional escape.  The visions in her mind moved from the needle to the memory of his death.  She had sat and listened to him lament about his suffering and rejoice in his final decision of abstinence; however, during his dialogue, he began to stutter more and his breath became weaker.  Eventually, she ignored his words and began talking to him while his eyes rolled up into their sockets and his arms convulsed in violent, but small jerks.  She detailed her experience with drugs and gave an explanation, however false, for why she had gotten strung out.  She told him about her first blowjob and that she had never had a boyfriend.  Finally, she revealed, for the first time to anyone, her childhood and the few memories she had of anything good.  She rolled comfortably in the flowers propping a pillow from the loose earth.  All the sweating and aching was long gone and her mind, no longer sleeping explored the words she had spoken to the foaming corpse.

 

III

 

I have trouble remembering too much about my life when I was really young.  In fact, my only memories of my mother are from right before she got rid of me.  I don’t ever remember seeing a daddy, but I do remember my grandma vaguely.  She cared a lot about me, I think.  She was really young for a grandma.  I think she had my mom when she was a teenager.  My mom used to get mad at me and yell at me about ruining her best years.  She said she had me when she was twelve.  I guess that would explain why I remember Grandma being so young.  Anything else about her is too blurry to describe; only, I do remember she would cry a lot when my mom would get into trouble.  You see my mom was a junky too, like you.  Except she used to use just about everything.  She free based caine, shot heroine, took pills and was always drunk.  Eventually, my grandma kicked her out of the house and wouldn’t let her take me with her.  I can’t say that I understand or remember the events that followed; however, mom and I took off.  It seems my mom should have left me with grandma.  It certainly would have made her life easier, but, either out of spite or some diluted notion of love, she stole me away when grandma was sleeping. 

I remember getting into some old, smelly car and travelling with a rude man who was driving the car.  Mom got high and I slept or played in the back seat for days.  I don’t remember where we moved from, but I have to assume that we came here to Michigan during that trip.  More specifically, we went to Detroit where I lived for about six years before coming up here on my own.  After we got to Detroit, mom stayed with the guy for about three months.  All I remember is a lot of parties and the guy yelling all the time.  Then, one day, mom grabbed me and a couple bags and we took off for some other small house with another crude man.  This one was much more abusive though.  I used to sit on the couch in front of the black and white TV and watch him beat her up.  I don’t remember if I cried or not.  You see, I got used to it early on.  I never went to school after leaving grandma’s house.  I just sat around all day watching my mom live her chaotic, frightening life.  Anyway, things got worse and I watched my mom do all sorts of crazy things.  She used to get high and then lose her head and break everything in the house.  More often than not, we had very little to break; therefore, eventually she began to bust holes in the walls and tear up the furniture.  I never remember having anything that wasn't tore up in some way.  Yet, that wasn’t the worst of it.

Mom began using smack more and more often.  I learned to avoid needles on the floor when I woke up in the morning to search the house for something, anything to eat.  I sustained myself on fast-food found in the refrigerator which someone would leave uneaten.  Other times, I would put on the cute, innocent act and tug at the heart strings of some junky sprawled on the floor.  If I did my best acting and begged, the person would either go out and get me something or enlist the assistance of a more cognizant loiterer to do so.  Nevertheless, I got by with that, the television, and fretful sleep in between the parties, fights and fits.  However, mom kept getting worse. 

One day I walked into the kitchen and saw her on her knees with some strange young guy standing with his head thrown back.  I remember he looked very young.  Probably 14 or so.  Mom was working him over good and I got my first glimpse of prostitution.  It continued until it seemed as though every single day brought another three or four men to the house.  Eventually, right in front of me, the guy we lived with would order my mom to do it with somebody during parties and mom would get to it as though she enjoyed it.  Thinking back on it now, I believe she did enjoy it in some morbidly fantastic way.

Before long, the house was constantly filled with people using drugs.  I used to have to walk around needles in the morning, but, by this point, I was walking around people connected to needles.  The guy had disappeared, probably in jail, and mom was always oblivious to anything, least of all, me.  New guys became her pimp and new dealers became her gods.  Before long she was getting sick everyday while I was watching after-school TV specials depicting far away middle class teenagers learning rather tepid lessons about marijuana.  Even back then I realized how disconnected those shows really were.I mean, if they would have only brought a camera into my childhood haven!  Now there’s an after school special for the Other America.  Thinking about it now, I am certain the rich people who decided what was right and wrong; who decided who received help and who did not—would have fainted in fear and declared the inner cities third world countries and proceed to SMART bomb the shit out of us.Nonetheless, the routine of men, more drugs, and hunger went on for months and months.

Yet, Mom was getting sicker and I was growing older.  In fact, I think I was around nine when mom’s pimps started looking at me funny and frightening me with strange comments or uncomfortable caresses.

If I remember correctly, all this happened somewhere around the late Eighties or early Nineties.  It came to an end one day when my mom left for one of her many doctor appointments.  I recall, toward the end, being afraid of her because of her appearance more than her behavior.  She had become terribly thin with sores all over her arms, neck and torso.  Her skin was always pale and cold.  When she wasn’t high, drunk, or fucking someone, she was in the bathroom moaning in pain, throwing up, and coughing in heaving trumpets of air.  Anyway, on this particular day, Mom had left for her appointment and I was cleaning up some broken glass near a rolling, snowing television screen propped in the corner of what should have been a dining room.  One of the familiar men my mom knew came through the door.  He asked where she was and I explained that she was gone.  He stated, in a peculiar way, that it was good that mom wasn’t around.  He wanted to talk to me about her health.  He then approached me and led me to a room in the back of the house where he felt we would be able to talk with more comfort.  This particular room was one that I always avoided as it was Mom’s office per se.  In fact, I never went into this room.  He pulled me through the door and I remember my little legs shaking with fear.  I somehow knew what was going to happen. 

We were only in there a few moments before I was laying naked and stretched across the bed looking up at this huge man slowly removing his clothes.  He didn’t bother to say anything and neither did I.  Even for my young mind, I guess I knew it was inevitable that it would happen to me, sooner or later.  He smelled awful from stale beer, smoke, and decaying teeth.  I trembled as his body clumsily and recklessly covered mine.  I was so tiny in contrast to his enormous frame and I was smothered underneath him, gasping for air as his weight worked to constrict my lungs.  But he proceeded to do what he intended to do.  His raw, stinking mouth found mine and left my lips sticky as I became nausious.  Yet, he did not leave it there as his mouth found places on my body I never imagined a mouth would go.  I cried silently at this point and closed my eyes with such fierceness my face began to ache fervently.  I considered screaming out for help.  I considered begging him to leave.  I, erratically, considered every possible avenue of escape.  However, I never uttered a word nor moved a limb.  I think I blacked out when he first penetrated me.  I only remember an intense pain shooting from my vagina into my head and limbs.  After that I can’t remember anything else about the event.  I remember using a dry wash cloth—the water had been cut off a week before—scrub my face and limbs.  I remember sitting staring at a fuzzy television cartoon in tears and carefully guarded sobs as the man tousled my unkempt hair as he walked out.  My very next memory is my mom leading me down the sidewalk…..crying.

Fuck, I was so young.  What kind of fucking pig could do such a thing when there were enough women in and out of that house for twenty men.  You wouldn’t do something like that would you?  Of course not!  You’re too high to worry about dick except to find a fresh vein.  But, you should know, I’ve never talked about it until now and I have done everything to avoid sexual situations altogether since then.  Until recently.  I needed it, you know, the caine and I had to do what I had to do.  It just brought back everything from that day and the days before it.  God damn it, I’m so tired.  I think if someone gave me a warm bed with clean white sheets and a soft pillow, I’d never wake up. 

When I was with Mom, I never even slept in a bed.  I slept on the couch or in the corner or on the steps if I had to.  Never a bed.  Everything was always in disarray and filthy.  A couch with two broken legs, a kitchen chair without upholstery, and if I was lucky, a blanket with burn holes and dried blood.  The house never had any lamps and most often, when the sun would go down, the flickering of the TV on the floor gave off the only light in the house.  Can you imagine being a little girl growing up in garbage (the human kind as well) and seeing the world from the pulsating, erratic light of a fuzzy television?  It had to end and it did.

Mom pulled me down the street, sobbing and saying little.  We walked through the neighborhood and mom avoided the slingers who knew her well.  She dragged me at times, but would slow down and grip my hand softly and reassuringly.  I don’t remember how far we went from the original house, but we eventually approached a small, white house located in the middle of an impoverished block.  I still remember being startled by it.  I had never seen such an immaculate house in all my life.  It was completely out of place amongst the chipped paint, boarded windows, and unkempt lawns of the homes surrounding it.  The bushes below the long porch were perfectly trimmed, the lawn was like a putting green, and the paint was clean and new.  The shutters were freshly painted green and the bars across the windows matched them.  It must have been spring because tulips were sprouting up under the bushes and pots hung from the awning.  And that is where Mom stopped.

She bent down and positioned her tear streaked face in front of mine.  She was whiter than I ever remembered seeing her and her breath smelled like she was dying.  She told me she was sorry for everything, especially what had happened with the man.  I guess she must have run into him on her way home and learned of his Draconian adventure and that had something to do with our escape.  Yet, there was something more, because she told me she wouldn’t be around much longer as she struggled through a fit of coughs.  She hugged me lightly and then pushed me toward the door of the remarkable house.  Consequently, I remember struggling against the pressure of her arms.  I’ll admit my life with her had been a nightmare, but it was all I knew.  This house, in all its beauty and cleanliness, scared me.  I didn’t know what she was planning, but I somehow knew she was leaving me there.  She did just that.  She handed me a note and told me to give it to the nice people inside.  Then, she knocked loudly on the door before quickly limping away, out of sight.

The door opened slowly and an old woman, older than I had ever seen, peered down at me.  I remember she looked deeply confused as I handed her the note, my little hands shaking as I offered it.  She took the note and held the door open for me to go in; yet, I hesitated.  “Well, come on now child, it’s chilly out here.”  Her voice was kind and I remember feeling cold, so I entered the little room as the woman locked the door behind me.  She gently pushed me into a small sitting room which smelled of disinfectant and medicine where an equally old man sat in a brown rocker and watched me with suspicion.  The woman pointed me to a chair while she sat down on a davenport next to the man’s rocker.

I can’t begin to tell you how different the house was from what I was used to.  The walls were done in dark-wood paneling and the furniture was clean and, while old, was in new condition.  In fact, I ran my hands over the soft chair with fear that the dirt on my hands would soil it.  I hadn’t taken a bath in weeks and I was suddenly self-conscious about how dirty I was.  This house was cleaner than anything I had ever experienced.  Moreover, it had pictures and trinkets and plants and pillows.  I couldn’t imagine how this was possible.  I thought all people lived the way I used to; yet, I guessed I maybe was the exception, instead of the old couple.  Nevertheless, I sat and soaked up, timidly, my new surroundings as the woman examined the note Mom had written.  She looked at it blankly for a very long time before finally handing it over to the suspicious old man.  “What do you make of this?”

“What is it, Mommy?”  The feeble man grunted as he leaned forward in his chair to clutch the note in his wrinkled fingers.  He held it close to his face and squinted as he read it.  He then handed it back to the woman and shrugged.  “Who’s the girl?  If she’s selling those cookies, tell her we don’t want any.  I had my share of those damn cookies!”  I just looked at him and returned his stare.  He wasn’t too sure how to take me and I felt similarly about him.  He never said one word to me that day and focused all his inquiries to the old woman whom he referred to, interchangeably, as Mommy or Teddy Bear.  Consequently, the old woman never had an answer for him, although she did take me through the house, showing me around.  She seemed thrilled to have a guest and she made a big deal out of being a hostess.  She led me to the back of the house where she opened the door to a room letting free a musty odor.  She explained that nobody ever went in there because there was no need.  However, she went in and pointed to a dresser, a bed, a large mirror, and a small closet.  She told me I could stay in there, but demanded that I help her clean it.

So I learned, on my first day, how to dust, sweep, mop, and make a bed.  I also learned that the woman thought I was filthy.  She made me get undressed and placed me in a hot bathtub where I was told to soak and scrub with a powerfully fragrant soap.  While I was in the tub she took my meager, old clothes and began washing them.  I was forced to wrap myself in an oversized pair of the old man’s pajamas as I waited for my clothes to dry.  I didn’t mind it, because they smelled better than anything I’d ever had on my body; therefore, I tramped around the house tripping over the legs of the pajama bottoms as they fell below my feet.  The house had a small, tidy kitchen with hand-stitched towels and doilies positioned neatly from this cupboard or that and little quaint messages like, the home is where the heart is.  The dining room was more like a closet with a table, two chairs, and a couple folding chairs against the wall.  The bathroom was painted in bright peach and red.  The colors were damaging to my eyes; after all, I was used to blacks, grays and dirt covered whites.  Indeed, I don’t believe I lived in color until this day.  The old couple’s bedroom was toward the front of the house and I don’t recall ever seeing the inside; however, right next to it was a small storage room that the old man had converted into a library.  Books were stacked on the floor, on a small desk, and cluttered within two bookcases that filled an entire wall.  Finally, the sitting room, where I first met the couple, was, as I said, spotlessly clean and decorated with ample memories of their younger years.

Pictures of people, young and old, covered the wall above the old man’s rocker.  Black and white or color, the pictures captured images like I had never seen.  Men in odd looking suits and hats, women in flowing dresses with lace and bonnets, children smiling next to some lake, old cars with happy people waving from inside, and couples gazing into each other’s eyes.  I wondered if I would ever find a place on that wall among the other happy children.  Across from the front door were little wooden shelves of various sizes holding plants and small potted flowers.  Next to that wall was the color television set, sitting on an elaborately carved, wooden table with drawers and glass doors.  More pictures hung on the wall above the television; however, the most disturbing and striking thing I remember about the house was the strange portrait resting on top of the TV.  It was a picture of Jesus with his hands together praying.  It had a metallic sheen and where ever I moved in the room, his holographic eyes followed me.  Moreover, if I looked at him from just the right angle, he appeared to open his hands and reach out to me.  At first, I was mortally frightened of his bright blue eyes.  Indeed, I felt he wanted something from me, but I was too young to know what that was or how to give it.  In those years, I only wanted to stay away.  Thus, I avoided that room and since the old man spent most of his time in there, it seems I avoided him, also.

I lived there for five years.  I never went to school and I never left the house, except to go in the back yard.  The old couple must have continued to be confused about me, because they never, in all the time they cared for me, asked my name.  I was referred to as “that girl” by the old man and “little angel" by the woman.  At breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Daddy would ask, “Is that girl staying to eat?” and Mommy would always reply, “Well, of course she is, aren’t you dear?”  And I would routinely nod my head and sit down in a folding chair to eat.  Years went by and I learned their routines and made them mine.  We awoke at the same time everyday to the same breakfast of bran cereal or waffles.  We ate soup and sandwiches for lunch and had a weekly schedule for dinners.  Mondays were spaghetti.  Tuesdays, pork chops.  Wednesdays were chili and bread.  Etcetera.  We never received visitors and Mommy did all her shopping by herself.  Our days were structured by meal times and it seemed we lived for them.  We did other things too, but we knew what day it was and what time it was by our meals.

Daddy got used to me being around, although I think he expected that, at any moment, I was going to attempt to pressure sell him into those dreaded cookies.  However, in between his paranoia, he was genuinely kind to me.  Every week he shuffled through his library and found another book which he claimed would build my character.  Along with the book, he provided me with a dictionary and expected a full report on my reading when I finished.  At first, the reading was terribly difficult, especially since the books weren’t written for young readers with a limited comprehension skills and vocabulary such as myself; however, with the dictionary next to me in bed, I finished every book he gave me.  I enjoyed reading and began to depend on his attention when we discussed the stories and what they meant.  I remember reading poetry, too, and I loved it.  Poems by Wordsworth and Blake, Spenser and Shakespeare, or the more contemporary poems of Plath and Frost would ignite my imagination and send me spinning in fantasies of love and maturity.  The poetry was definitely my favorite reading; nevertheless, difficult stories by Flaubert and Fitzgerald succeeded in expanding my imagination.  I remember one week, after I had taken a very long time to get through some Italian author, Daddy mistakenly gave me a book by Lawrence.  It was through this book that I realized that Mom’s relationships had been horribly wrong and my perceptions of sexuality—as it had been modeled and tragically forced upon me—were not what healthy love and intimacy were about.  This realization was shattered again when I left the old couple five years later, but at the time, I began to develop a romantic vision of the world.

In any case, I only managed to get through half the book before Daddy realized he had given me a story for which I wasn’t ready, but that first half was enough to explode my deflowered innocence in new directions.  I imagined being held by a strong, clean man.  Not with the rough callousness of which my mother had been held, but with the tender care of one of Lawrence’s characters.  Words like passion and intimacy, romance and fury, sensuality and eroticism all accosted my young mind and I began longing for something resembling the love I read about.  Yet, Mommy and Daddy provided me only with minimum companionship and care.  They weren’t cold to me, but simply unsure about what I was to them.  Moreover, I doubt they ever considered me anymore than a houseguest that wouldn’t go away.  Not that I inconvenienced them.  I have the impression that Daddy really enjoyed our routine, in between meals, of discussing my readings.  And Mommy, I believe she felt younger just having me around.

Indeed, now and then, she would return from one of her rare shopping trips with a grocery bag specifically for me.  She would urge me into my room and delight as I would open the bag to discover some loudly patterned flower dress or an odd looking pair of pants; however, I never strayed farther than the safety of the backyard, so I didn’t know that other girls my age wouldn’t be caught dead in those clothes.  I was happy to get them.  Moreover, I had nothing else.  My fondest memories, over and beyond the sporadic gifts or the weekly reading, concern the springs and summers I spent with her in the back yard.  Mommy loved flowers and it is with her that I gained the only true sense of comfort and unity I have ever known.

The backyard was an intricate and lovely complex of different gardens.  I used to know the names of each and every flower which grew in them.  Literally dozens of varieties of flowers flourished under our careful attention.  I knew which flowers needed the most water, which needed less.  It knew which ones would flourish in the sun light and which ones needed as much shade as possible.  I learned to prune the more elaborate plants and weed the gardens with precision.  I knew the annual planting ritual and the annual digging up of bulbs and cutting down of rose bushes when Mommy would say Persephone was leaving and ruining the fun.  I spent entire days in the backyard among the bright colors and sweet smells.  My life made sense and my future was clear in the bright sunlight, within the fresh gardens, next to the dear woman.  I grew up, finally, in the safety and pleasure of those years.  To this day, nothing has ever come close to replacing that sanctity and comfort. 

You must realize that after a few years in that house, I was really no longer a child.  I had seen more with Mom than most adults ever see.  I had been raped, beaten, neglected, and starved.  Add to that the experiences with Mommy and Daddy—the books that were meant for adults, the discussions with the old man, the elaborate gardening with the woman, and finally, the consistent knowledge that the couple didn’t even know who I was—and a twelve year old woman emerges.  Indeed, I knew more about other’s perceptions on life than anyone else my own age and I had my own horrible life experiences with which to differentiate.  Nevertheless, I was comfortable within the fantasies which my reading created; I didn’t want any of it to end.  Yet, as I’ve come to accept, nothing really good can last.  Nothing gold can stay.

Sometime around the beginning of my fifth year with the couple, the old man didn’t get up for breakfast one morning.  He never came to the table to ask if the girl was staying to eat or shuffle into the sitting room to watch a news program.  Instead, Mommy and I waited at the table for what seemed hours for him to join us.  Finally, with our food untouched, Mommy got up and put our plates away and went into her room.  It was still winter and I remember the cold air coming in as the paramedics held the door open for the stretcher.  I watched as they carried it out with a sheet completely covering Daddy, even his face.  The paramedics didn’t seem to notice me sitting in the dining room on my folding chair watching them take away my security like so much trash to collect.

Mommy went with them and didn’t return for several days.  The phone never rang and nobody came for me, which was alright, since I feared being kidnapped from my sanctuary every moment that she was gone.

Eventually, she came home and things went back to normal as much as they could.  She rarely spoke after Daddy died, but the routines stayed the same.  Every morning we would wake at the same time and sit at the table.  I still sat in the folding chair and Mommy still set food down for three.  After sitting down, we waited.  Mommy stared toward the hallway leading to her room with an expectant or anxious expression.  I remember her gaze being incredibly hard to take.  However, she would eventually shrug and eat her meal.  Only then did I start eating myself.  Lunch and dinner was the same torturous routine of waiting and watching before eating.  Mommy still enjoyed our gardens and I still read, except that I chose what I would read.  Finally, one morning toward the end of summer, when Persophone disappeared below the earth, Mommy joined her and didn’t come to breakfast.  The morning was bright and the birds were screeching their hellos, but she didn’t answer.

I waited for awhile, but eventually went into the kitchen myself and poured three bowls of bran cereal and carefully placed them in their correct positions on the table.  I grabbed the powdered milk out of the fridge, three spoons, napkins, and glasses of juice and returned to the table.  I sat down gingerly in the folding chair and gazed toward the hallway leading to her room and waited.  I waited for several hours glancing between the cereal and the hallway before finally pouring the milk and eating.  I then went into the backyard and fussed over the rose bushes preparing them for a long winter.  When the appropriate time had arrived, I returned to the kitchen and prepared three lunches and waited again.  I remember doing this for three days, I think.  I simply couldn’t bring myself to enter her room.  I knew I would see her there on the bed with a sheet covering her entire body including her head.  I could not bear to see her life covered from my view by an impersonal white fabric stealing my comfort and security as it rolled away.  Instead, I went to the phone.  Nobody had ever taught me to use it, so I picked it up and began pushing numbers.  I continued to get recordings or high-pitched beeps until, finally, a female voice answered the other line and asked if she could help me.  “Mommy won’t come out of her room.”  I remember not being able to answer the woman’s questions and hanging up the phone; however, a short time later, there was a knock on the door.  Two police officers entered and I pointed them to Mommy’s room where they immediately went, only to come out without her.  They asked who I was and I couldn’t tell them.  They asked how long Mommy had been in the room and I said three days.  They asked her name.  I didn’t know it.  They asked a lot of questions while a pair of paramedics took her out on a stretcher.

The following days remain a blur to me.  I was old enough that the cops let me stay at the house, but people came and went constantly.  They were confused about me.  I didn’t know who I was, so I was no help.  They rummaged through closets and drawers looking for something to give them a clue.  They stared at the pictures on the wall.  The far away faces filled with joy captured forever and hung on the wall which now seemed so lonely.  I never did find a place on that wall.  I remember being asked if I wanted to attend a service for the woman.  They said I would be the only family member and she would probably want me to be there.  I refused.  From all my readings, funerals seemed horribly sad events which only accomplished causing more tears and I wanted nothing to do with them.  And so they let me be for a while longer.  Finally, a woman came from some agency and said I would have to leave the house.  I hadn’t learned to be angry or how to fight, so I agreed.  She seemed to be genuinely worried about me and I remember she held my hand for awhile before setting down a wrinkled, yellowing piece of paper on the table and heading to my room to start packing.  I waited for her to leave and then retrieved the paper.  It was a note.  It read: Please take care of my little girl.  I am dying and can no longer do it.  Everyone I had is now dead.  You’re my only hope.  She is your great granddaughter.

Edna.

I gently returned the note to its position on the table and went to my room to help the woman.  We gathered all of my eccentric clothing, a few of my favorite books, and my new winter coat and we left the house.  As I walked through the sitting room, the portrait of Jesus followed me.  His eyes were as bright as when I first seen them, except at that time they had looked very real, as though a living man really existed behind them.  But, as I left that day, his eyes were dead.  They seemed cold and empty as I walked past him waiting for his hands to open up and reach for me.  This time, they never did.

 

 

I lived with a foster family for a few months after that, but they were cruel people.  The house reminded me of Mom’s homes and the man’s voice resembled the harshness I had always heard from Mom’s boyfriends.  I got by, for the most part, and learned to argue with my foster brothers and sisters.  I learned to protest when things were unjust and run when things became dangerous.  They became dangerous often.  The man worked a lot and when he returned home from work, he was always angry with someone.  He yelled and threatened all of us, including his wife.  He never hit anyone, but the danger for me was in his voice.  He watched me a lot and when he wasn’t yelling, he spoke to me in tones I found uncomfortable.  These brief, strange, and unsettling exchanges continued until, one day, he tried to do more than talk.  He reached for me instead.  I was alone in the house with him for the first time and he intended to benefit from our solitude.  He grabbed me by the arm harshly and pulled me to him.  Apparently, I was flowering into an attractive girl, because, even though he never said so, his eyes told me he had to have me.  His hands began to explore my body as I stiffened with fear.  This wasn’t Lawrence or Flaubert, this was Nabokov without Humbert’s perverse gentleness!  All my idealistic dreams of finding something resembling the tender love from a novel shattered when his stale breath penetrated my nostrils and his wet, slimy mouth joined my own trembling lips.  I screamed and struggled, something else I learned in the brief time I spent with my foster siblings.  Abruptly his hands became harsh and, instead of exploring my body, they squeezed it violently.  I scratched at his eyes viciously and kicked him in his groin.  He was bleeding from the eyes and cheeks by the time he released me.  A car door was closing outside and voices were approaching the door.  I ran to my room and began to gather my books I managed to salvage from Daddy’s library and a few dollars I had earned in chores. 

Outside my room, I heard the woman screaming at the man.  She demanded an explanation.  I could not hear the man’s response, but the woman cried out “that little fucking slut.  I will fix her good!”  As her footsteps prodded loudly toward my room, I sprinted out past her and literally leapt out the front door.  And I never looked back.

I went back to the familiar old neighborhood that night and found my grandparent’s house alight with activity.  It was a different color and, although it was spring, the flowers were not growing below the bushes.  There were a few tulips, choked by weeds, but no sign of the annuals which would have been planted by then.  The grass hadn’t been mowed yet and one of the front windows was broken.  Indeed, the house wasn’t the same.  It was as dead as Jesus’ eyes had been the day I was guided out the front door for the last time.  I stood on the sidewalk watching the shadows move around inside and listened to blaring, thumping music.  I was saddened, but refused to cry.  I must have been in a trance, because I don’t remember leaving.  The next thing I remember is standing at the bus station crying for the first time since Mom had left me with a note at the threshold of that house.

 

IV

 

The dreaming discourse wandered through her mind from the beginning of her revelations to the end, when she finally acknowledged that the man across from her was dead.  The hallway had grown cold as the white film around his eyes spread to his lips and mucous formed below his nose.  He hadn’t heard anything she had said and that was fine.  She needed no one to hear or understand.  She hardly understood herself anymore.  All she had were the memories and the comfort some brought and the rage and sadness brought by others.  Confiding to a dead, pale junky simply provided a pleasant release.  The rock which had blistered her lips and soothed her aching body, provided the only thing she could ever understand now.

The memory of the dead confidant and the story she gave him faded as the smell from the flowers roused her.  At the same time, she began to ache for the memories even more.  After leaving the foster home, Edna had gotten on a bus and went north to Flint.  At first, she had tried to find a job or something reasonable to sustain her, but she was still young and had left the foster home before any true identification could be obtained for her.  No one wanted to hire a disheveled, teenage girl who didn’t even know her own last name, could not provide identification, or even any proof that she came from this country!  So she stole a purse which was sitting in a downtown café and ate lunch.  Additionally, she got a room at a frightening place called the Berridge Hotel and met crack cocaine almost immediately.  It gave her power and provided her the only consolation she could find for her losses.  She abandoned any aspirations for normalcy as soon as she arrived in Flint.  She abandoned all her hopes for a storybook romance, as well.  Love was something not meant for her and every experience she ever had told her so.  The Berridge, an hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly, sordid business became her new home.  She became friends with, or at least, a constant fixture in the lives of the other inhabitants.  Many were ex-convicts recently paroled.  Others were junkies of a variety of drugs of choice.  Others were simply lost and found in the halls of the filthy, acrid hotel. 

Edna was resigned to that life then.  She was slowly resigning herself to a new twist in her life tonight.  If giving blowjobs was the way she had to survive, then so be it, but she’d be damned if she ever opened herself intimately to anyone.  She had went from the chaotic tragedy of Mom’s life, to the emotionless order of her grandparents home, and now, lying asleep in a simple garden of common annuals, she was only Edna and wouldn’t attempt to become anyone else.

Before long, the euphoria and calmness of her high was completely gone.  She awoke to a miserably gray morning and noticed that the flowers she had been laying in were mostly dead, swallowed by the frost of a new autumn.  She pulled herself out of the small garden and looked around.  Nobody was out this early and even the birds seemed to have lost interest in the dawn.  She walked toward the edge of the park and reached into her pocket pulling out a card she vaguely remembered getting from the therapist the night before.  The front of the card indifferently announced the address and phone number of outpatient services; however, on the back, in a well-practiced hand, was written a message.  Please call them…It might be your last chance!  She stopped and stared at the handwriting for a moment and then crumpled the card in her hands.  She noticed a familiar face at the corner ahead and threw the card on the ground as she walked in his direction.

“Hey, what’s up Tony?  What are you doing out here so early?”

“Waiting for junkies like you.  What do you need?”  He looked at her without judgement and put his hands in his pocket, waiting.

“Shit man, you know I can’t pay you.  I think I already owe you money, anyway.”  Edna wasn’t in the mood to play any games this morning.  She needed something to drink to help her come down and that was it for now.  Besides, Tony had always been a piece of shit.  He knew how it felt to need the stuff, but since he got sober and just sold, he had begun to take pleasure in making people beg him.  Edna knew he just liked the power of it, since he didn’t have any other real power.  He was just selling for Maurice, the main drug guy on this side of town.  Maurice had the power around here and Tony knew he’d be dead if he ever crossed Maurice; therefore, Tony found his politics in sometimes direct and other times subtle torture when fiending customers came his way.

“Your friend Terry, the rich kid, he paid off your debt last night.  He said you were in bad shape and would be looking for me.”  Tony stood next to the street sign with his hands deep in his pockets.  He was thinking about something and then he continued, “You want something?  Terry said you were good for it.  Stupid motherfucker should never vouch for a crack ho, but what can you do, right?”

“Are you holding any smack?”

“What?  You’re a crack head, what ya want with smack?” 

“I need something else, what’s it to you?  Just fucking tell me if you got the shit and shut the hell up.”  Edna wasn’t even sure herself what she was doing, but she realized during the night that she had lied to the therapist about wanting to live.  She wanted to die.  She was destined to have the sheet pulled over her head and be wheeled away from this forever.  Tony stated he had some “right on” DOA and asked how much she wanted.  “Terry said I was covered, right?”  Tony answered in the affirmative with a grunt, so Edna demanded 4 packs.  Tony handed over the smack and told her if she didn’t eventually pay him, Terry was going to pay out his ass.  Edna shrugged off his empty threat.  Terry could always pay and this made him an invaluable customer.  Dealers never hurt junkies like Terry.

Edna walked away with tunnel vision.  All she needed now was the hardware to fix herself.  She wasn’t too far from the Berridge and, although she hadn’t had the money to stay there lately, she knew she would find someone with a spike and she could do what she needed to do.  When she first started doing coke, she could only smoke a couple hits at a time before getting sick.  She had a very low tolerance to new drugs.  She was hoping that if she shot the entire smack, while pounding a pint of vodka, she would shock her system to the point of death.  That was her final plan. 

She approached the Berridge and proceeded immediately to Amanda’s room at the back.  She called it the junky room, because, for the past three months, the same needle junkies hung with Amanda and threw small, lethargic parties whenever they scored big.  She had partied with them a couple of times, but always avoided the needles in lieu of her pipe.  Today, she needed the needles.  She knocked and waited as she heard stumbling inside.  The door opened and a haggard woman with pink hair let her in.  For Amanda, life was an open door policy.  Edna walked in and observed three more bodies scattered through the tiny room.  It smelled of vomit and alcohol.  Edna noticed an unopened bottle of Bacardi 151 resting on the floor against the nightstand.  She immediately grabbed it and stuffed it inside her shirt.  She asked Amanda if she had a spike and was pointed toward the other nightstand.  There in the top drawer were several needles and a cap.

She reached in and grabbed what she needed.  Without a word, she fled from the room and moved east toward downtown.  She would find an alley or something to hide in and finish herself, once and for all.  At least she’d go out high.  Wasn’t that all she wanted, anyway?  Wasn’t that what everyone wanted in this sick twisted world?  Just a little comfort and shit-load of happiness right before dying.  She moved through the streets pounding back the rum with eager swallows.  It burned her throat going down, but immediately warmed her cold stomach.  Yeah, they can all go to hell now.  She entered an alley below the Towers and sat herself down next to the dumpster.  It was still early and no one would be around for another hour or so; however, a jet black BMW was parked not too far from the dumpster and looked out of place among the trash and clutter of the alley.  Not a scratch or cloud of dirt was on the paint.  Looking close enough, she almost saw her reflection in its door; however, she quickly looked away.  She hadn’t really looked at herself, since losing the huge mirror in Mommy’s back room.  In fact, since coming to Flint, she had forgotten what she looked like.

She began to empty as much heroin as possible into the cap and fill it with water from a bottle she had picked up along the way.  She lit the bottom of the cap and waited for the stuff to liquefy.  Next, she removed her ratty belt and wrapped it around her arm.  Using her teeth and free hand, she pulled tight enough to numb her fingers.  Then, following the example of so many others she had watched, she began to slap her arm in between the forearm and biceps.  Eventually, a huge vein began to bulge.  Edna then plunged the spike into the cap and drew in as much of the brown liquid as it would hold.  Tears grew in her eyes as she put down the spike, grabbed the rum, and drank as much as she could without puking.  DOA?  Fucking better be!  She slowly, timidly brought the spike to her arm and guided the lethal weapon into the vein.  She drew back on the plunger to be sure she got the vein and once she saw the crimson flow mix with the brown fluid, she pushed the plunger down.  Jesus, did it feel good!

Edna’s head slammed back and she held her arms out to the sky.  In supplication, she screamed, then laughed, then cried.  She had never felt such an immediate calm.  Her entire body rocked in an almost erotic explosion of sensations.  All the wickedness of the past few years disappeared and the worthless euphoria of the coke seemed laughable.  She was ready to die.  Clumsily, she took the rest of the heroin and began to empty it into the cap, but she was suddenly inspired to die in a less disgusting place.  She turned back to the BMW and imagined the smell of new leather and, probably, expensive cigars.  She couldn’t resist her newly adorned courage and staggered dizzily toward the car.  It was unlocked.

Once inside, she continued her work with the smack and before long was ready to finish what she started.  She was right about the leather and wrong about the cigars.  The car was so immaculate; the owner probably wouldn’t allow anyone to smoke anything within it.  She positioned herself comfortably on the back seat and with a final slug of rum, repeated the earlier steps and had the spike securely in a vein.  As she slowly pressed the plunger, she saw the empty, damaged walls of Mom’s final residence.  She smelled the alcohol and sweat of a child rapist.  She felt the gentle pressure of Mom’s hand in hers.  She heard Daddy ask “is that girl staying for supper” and Mommy reply “of course she is, aren’t you dear?”  She saw the folding chair against the wall; smelled the flowers in spring, and finally, saw Jesus’ cold dead eyes turning away from her.  Then there was nothing.

 

 

V

Edna suddenly felt weightless as a strange humming filled her ears.  Her body felt like it was floating above something very quiet and forlorn.  She refused to open her eyes.  Indeed, she feared that she had failed and that she would only awaken to see the stubborn, judging faces of doctors and nurses filling her veins with life.  That had not been her plan.  Her plan was to never see any faces, anytime, anywhere again.  The finality of her decision and the fear that it had failed made her angry.  The humming only increased.  She felt a constant, cool breeze brushing her skin from the left.  The breeze did not change direction or velocity.  It did not change temperature.  It only made a haunting humming and continued, perpetually the same.  She opened her eyes.

Edna could not really be sure if she was floating or standing or hanging from some inexplicable cable.  Yet, she was looking down upon a jet black BMW parked in a dirty ally.  The sky was a hazy yellow and she believed she could actually see the air around her as though the molecules of oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen—among all the other contaminants in the city’s atmosphere—were glowing yellow.  She had remembered a bright day in the old woman’s garden shortly after the rain when she sensed the air so vividly.  Indeed, there were a lot of days when the sun shone so brilliantly that the damp air seemed to be reflective at every angle.  Only this time, there was a disturbing quality to everything.  And the steady, humming breeze made her drowsy.  Her eyes continued to get heavy as they closed lightly and shut out the yellow air.  She felt like dreaming and wanted to talk to God, but he would never answer her anyway.  The breeze rocked her like so much an infant in the arms of a doting mother.  She shuddered awake and reopened her eyes.

As before, she was in a strange state of suspension in a dirty alley above a jet black BMW.  The shine of the car seemed much duller now as though it had been pelted by rain for a decade without a waxing.  As the perpetual breeze wrapped around her like large fingers and began rocking ever so slowly, she became sickened by the dull black car.  She turned to look around her.  The buildings which choked the tiny alley actually swayed in and out making the alley larger and then smaller in turn.  They seemed to shimmer as though no more than fragile petals on a dying rose in the wind.  She suddenly felt nauseated.  She gulped back vile from her stomach and grimaced at the rancid taste.  She shuddered again.  However, immediately after, she felt nothing at all.  She could not feel her heart beating in her chest, she could not feel the breath moving through her mouth into her burnt lungs.  She could not feel the hovering sensation any longer.  She was empty and lost.  She returned her gaze to the car which now shone with brilliance.

She was slowly falling toward the car.  So slowly, however, that the dreadful snail’s pace would have turned her easily agitated stomach to knots had she not lost all feeling throughout her body.  As she descended, Edna could somehow see into the vehicle.  As the gentle, warming breeze continued to visit her dead skin, she noticed a filthy, horrible looking girl curled in the backseat.  The girl’s eyes were tightly shut as her limbs hung languidly around her as no more than drapery rather than necessary body parts.  The girl’s clothes were shabby and torn in several areas.  Her face was powdered with dirt and streaked muddy by tears along her cheeks.  She had high cheek bones which would have seemed aristocratic and lovely had they not been smeared so.  Her full lips were chapped and cracked and plagued by several blisters in the center.  Her elegant nose was smeared with tears, dirt, and sweat.  Her long lean fingers rested lifeless from the wrists.  And Edna peered at this woman, this girl with terrible shame and pity.  Edna realized she was slowly descending upon herself. 

How beautiful she could have been had anyone noticed.  How pitiable she looked now.  As the steady breeze continued to caress her body and the swaying walls of the buildings choked the alley, Edna rejoiced that it was over.  The worthless girl would be put to rest and the beautiful woman inside could finally emerge and dissipate.  The finality was refreshing and affirming.  Indeed, what had she really left behind?  A world where no one knew her or wanted to know her?  A world in which people migrated daily from their pristine personal palaces in the suburbs to their gray offices in the cities to trade their time and patience for increasing amounts of money only to trade that for more impersonal novelties in their quiet little worlds?  A world where people refused to accept that life wasn’t full of opportunity for all?  A world where children are left with nameless, faceless strangers to be raised in absent minded fashion? There really was nothing to stay for, nothing left behind, nothing worth remembering………except, maybe…….the rugged hands of an old woman digging graciously in her gardens and the comical senility of an old man as he instructs a child on the importance of Hugo’s melodrama.  No, not even that was worth remembering.  Like Edna, they were gone forever.  Edna resolved to close her eyes one last time.  She looked compassionately upon the girl in the back seat.  She seemed like a child now.  Edna smiled and said goodnight.

As she closed her eyes for the last time, now descending more rapidly upon the girl curled in the back seat of the car, she was distracted by the jangle of keys.  A tall, dark haired man was opening the car door.  As the door opened the man made a sudden gasp as he noticed the girl in the back seat of his car.  He quickly threw open the rear door and called out loudly to the girl.  The girl did not respond.  Edna began to ascend away from the car again.  The inexplicable cable suspending her above the scene began to pull her away from her final rest.  Edna yelled out “Leave me alone.  Leave me the fuck alone!”  The man reached carefully into the back seat and checked the girl’s pulse and listened for breathing.  He noticed the needle in her arm and backed away slowly.  With his powerful hands, he reached into the inside pocket of his dark sports jacket and retrieved a phone.  Edna was crying now, sobbing “please, I can’t do this again.  Please, don’t help me”.  The man was talking to someone on the tiny phone, demanding assistance, an ambulance.  The man reached back into the car and gently reached for the girl’s hand.  He held it gingerly and carefully in his own while whispering “hold on there, help is coming, just hold on”.

Edna was enraged.  The breeze continued to hit her from the left.  The same temperature, same velocity, same everything.  The cable had stopped her.  She imagined she was just 3 feet above the man who was now kneeling on the ground outside the rear door of the car.  Yet, at the same time, it seemed she was farther away than ever.  “Don’t help me asshole!” she screamed and cried at the same time.  She thought she might choke, but, then, she could not feel her throat.  She reached out to pull the man away, but he was just out of her reach.  She began swinging violently at his head, at his back, at the car.  She could not reach a thing.  She could not feel a thing.  She was just hovering there so close, so far away.  Edna cried as the perpetual breeze aroused another bout of drowsiness.  The looming buildings swayed away from the alley opening up much wider than it had been before.  The shimmering walls were now concrete and tangible.  The yellow air and sky drew around her like a blanket.  An ambulance pulled through the thick yellow air below her and halted.  A man and woman emerged from the burning, revolving lights and ran upon the man as he continued to hold vigil next to the complete stranger lying lifeless in his car.  The paramedics gently moved the man out of the way and, with head down, still in vigil, he moved to front of the car to allow them room. 

Edna was frantic.  She wanted to lash out at the fools who thought they knew what was best for the girl; however, the humming of the breeze began to envelop her.  She was overwhelmed.  She could suddenly feel again—only she could not strike out.  She slowly shut her dripping eyes.  In the blackness behind her eye lids, she saw the pathetic child being drawn by the hand down the street toward an incredible light.  She wanted to keep going, but the hand released her and demanded that she stay.  Her mother began walking to the end, to the light, to the sidewalk’s destiny.  Edna opened her eyes as the paramedics plunged a long needle into the girl’s chest and pushed down on the plunger.  The girl’s eyes opened wide and Edna was drawn like a jolt of electricity into her open, gasping mouth.  The breeze no longer comforted Edna as she was looking up at the two stubborn, judging faces of the paramedics and the somber, concerned face of the man whose car she had chosen as her funeral pier.


© Copyright 2017 Robert Brasseur. All rights reserved.

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