I write stories about random people I see. Here is the first.
She used to be a theatre kid, that’s for sure. Her flamboancy and facial expressions are fearless and borderline annoying. Eyebrows painted eye, self-esteem dipped low she is here. After completing her four years and expertly escaping the maze, she is right back here. Why? Maybe its her passion, like some teachers say it is, but I doubt it. It’s probably just her lack of purpose in the world. Just because she’s older than the rest of us doesn’t mean that she doesn’t partake in the same crises and though processes that we do. I see her reading a new book every week. I bet she’s searching for an answer of some sorts. She’s searching for a book that sharpens her dull edges or enlightens her stone mind already carved with her beliefs as concrete facts. She searches for love tucked between pages or thickly braided ponytails. Her plain black boots are from a thrift store and they remind her of home. Where her voice is heard and not sucked into the void. Where she is reminded of the comfort she so lacks every other day. The shoes give her a foundation of memories to walk upon, supporting her frail, thin bone structure. She towers above everyone in the hallways, wading through backpacks and shoulders among other obstacles on small stilts attached to the heels of her boots. They hurt her feet, but she puts them on day after day.
When she returns to her lonely apartment with a seasonal greeting mat, she sighs.
“Let it snow” in some obnoxious font with snowmen gathered around the phrase stares up at her. She cracks a smile.
The door creaks open and immediately she locks it from the other side. One can never be too careful when doubt is their clingy companion. Her lights flicker on after a few hesitant seconds and she rakes through her brain, trying to remember if she paid the electricity bill. They bathe the stale walls and unclean dishes in the soapy sink. The heater groans to a start and grunts in the three bedroom apartment, snarling at the amount of work it puts into making sure an a hundred pound girl is warm for a few hours. She turns the TV on to drown out the thoughts in her head, but the screen is immediately plastered with tragedy distorting every pixel of the outdated box. Her eyes glaze over as she sees the violence and body bags, the children and bombs, the guns and riots.
She clicks back into her own mind.
Food. That’s something she should probably do, right? She forgets this sometimes. The tiny freezer door that sits comfortably atop the old refrigerator swings open and its yellow lightbulb washes over the dark bags under her eyes. A microwave spaghetti and meatballs will have to do for tonight. The hum of the microwave dulls her mind again and her eyes crawl back to the television across the room. The tragedies haven’t stopped for her. The world isn’t an instrument that is fine tuned to a particular player like she thinks and hopes that it is. People will always die and do awful things, so why is there this twinge of hope every time she presses the wretched ‘on’ button? Even when she is greeted with blood from behind a screen, she is not surprised. She is numb to tragedy and the taste of poorly cooked microwavable meals.
Maybe later she will post on Facebook about the most recent bombing just to let everyone know that she is a compassionate human being. She’ll probably forget. A few sad emojis and comments on others’ posts will have to suffice.
When the 2020 special is over, she drops the used fork into the sink of dirty dishes and throws the cardboard container with sticky remnants of sauce onto the counter. She’ll clean it up later. Frankly, she’ll probably forget about that too.
The bathroom mirror is her worst enemy. Brushing her teeth is always the first part of her routine and she coats the purple plastic bristles with a simple white paste. It’s not a fancy bleaching toothpaste or one that tastes like spearmint. It’s just plain old Colgate that she used to coat her zits with back in the 90s in hope for a clear face by day break.
The full two minutes are awkward as she tries to look everywhere else but her own reflection in the tiny room. She stares at the small hairs cascading out of the nest built up in her hairbrush and the hardened chunks of toothpaste that got caught going down the drain. It’s over. She plops in her retainer and grabs the makeup wipes. Quickly, she uses wipe after wipe to peel away a mask that has adhered itself to her skin. She scrubs and scrubs but the foundation won’t melt and her eye makeup just smudges. She looks like a mime for God’s sake, how embarrassing! She becomes self conscious of what others are thinking of her at this very moment, alone, in the privacy of her own home. She bangs on the the walls of the cage she has trapped herself in.
She strips on the short walk across the hall to her bedroom and lets her blouse and pencil skirt fall to the ground like the dashed marks down the middle of a road. Her pijamas are on the bed and she pulls on the old shirt. She lays in bed and looks out at her porch door.
The balcony looks awfully nice tonight.