Stolen Wallpaper

Words but a whisper, deafness a shout

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Location: Zeeland, Michigan, United States

Hi. I wish I had a job selling squirrels. They're so furry, and give you toothy grins. Unless they're rabid, in which case they will eat your face off and then find the rest of your family. That's not so good, I guess.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A World Of Hurt

He watched her sleep, or try to, at least. Her hair was a fright, her face was lined from pillowcrush, and her skin was a worrisome sallow color. She hated hated hated it here, but there was no other option.

The previous afternoon, he'd dropped by his parents' house on some errand or other, to find his mother rocking back and forth on the couch and keening. His sister sat calmly at the kitchen table doing her makeup: "she's been doing that for hours. She won't go to the hospital, and she won't let me call Dad. Heck with it, I'm going to work." She insisted it must be the flu; he was dubious, but let it go, and went to work. Several hours into his shift, his other sister called: the pain had doubled, and they had taken her to the hospital, and no one knew anything. Later that night, no one knew anything. The next morning, no one knew anything and the pain meds were useless. It might be diverticulitis. It might not. They stuck her with needles and gave her IVs and wouldn't let her take her thyroid pills. She had entered her own personal idea of hell. He spent Friday night on the couch next to her hospital bed.

Finally, after an ultrasound, they figured out that she'd had an ovarian cyst that had burst, and the gurgling she'd felt was the extra blood and guck from it swishing around. After consultation (only the second time she'd seen the guy instead of a minion), her OB-GYN advised against surgery, and to just let the system flush itself out. Well, fine Doc, but pain medicine is useless on the Hieftje constitution: her mother drank and smoked herself to death because the release just never came. Mom finally escaped the hospital, but then all the next day she had the worst headache of her life; it made her incoherent and wild eyed. The only halfway comfortable position she could find was sitting at the kitchen counter, on a barstool, leaning forward, a pillow cushioning her beleaguered gut against the edge. He spent the whole night there with her, changing ice packs, fetching water, dithering and watching her suffer, not knowing how to fix this. He owed this woman a life without pain. He owed this woman his existence. He owed this woman fifteen hundred dollars. He was not much of a prayer, but atheism is hard to maintain in the face of suffering mothers, so he said a few silent entreaties, watched her shallow breathing, and tried to read a book.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Fun Times

She walked, slowly, loving the heat but also aware that too much could cause a keelover. A car zoomed by, catching her in its headlights for a moment then moving on, a relief every time. She didn't mind walking--most of the time--but she was at the mercy of the crazed inhabitants of this crazed desert city while moving at such a slow and easy-to-snag pace. Sigh. She needed a damn car.

She kicked a rock and turned a corner, heading for "home." Thanks to the byzantine vagaries of apartment leases and penalty clauses, she was still living with her ex-fiancè. She'd felt like such a heel when she'd ended it; he'd been a pleasant fellow, nice to her, good to animals, but she just didn't....feel strongly enough for a wedding to happen. And then, torturously, they had to keep living in the same place, passing like pissed ships in the night going to and from their jobs. And his character changed: he became peevish, contrarian, vindictive, passive aggressive. There was no way to tell if this was a reaction to rejection, or the letting down of the false front of the betrothed. Either way, bullet dodged.

She approached the apartment complex. In one direction was her place, where the love was gone but at least there were kittens; in the other was her best friend's apartment, where she spent far more time than was strictly necessary these days. Her best friends were a pair of sisters; she thought of them as HER sisters, really. She was going to miss them terribly. One, in particular, thought she was making a huge mistake, traveling across the entire country to go live with some random dude she'd never laid eyes on, and told her at every opportunity that she was gonna end up in a ditch somewhere bleeding profusely and why don't you just stay here with us and meet a nice guy? She meant well, she knew, but her mind was made up. She had to get out of this place, even if just for the adventure; she knew she needed a change, and so did he. Life was just too damn short and brutish to waste big hunks of it not being with the people that made you happy. And, twisted though it may be, they made each other happy, even though so far it was only through his purloined work cellphone.

She'd been to a funeral last week. A really good friend, a friend since junior high, had been tortured and killed for being gay. She hated people, hated them with a white hot passion. She cheerfully and unrepentantly harbored elaborate and gruesome revenge fantasies. Civilization gripped her to the extent that action was unlikely, but in the privacy of her own head, she knew that most people needed a little bit of killing in a world where such things could happen to the good and the blameless. Of course there would be a whole new set of venal and vindictive and stupid people in the far frozen north. But at least they hadn't wronged her yet. Down here, they had too much to answer for. It was time to get out. Clean slates were well and good, but you still wind up wincing at the sound of the scraping chalk.

She turned the key, walked in, tripped over three kittens, passed the ex stretched out on his precious couch without a word, entered her room, closed the door, and collapsed face first on the bed. She loved to lie on her stomach and feel her arms and neck and muscles stretch and relax. She wished he was here. But, then he'd melt. So, yeah, waiting a few weeks will have to do. She fell asleep, kittens climbing her long hair.