Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Here is the next section of the story I have been working on. The first section can be found here and the second section found here

Once while shopping I saw an old woman with hair so thin it was showing through her scalp. She wore a giant ragged jean jacket and her purse was held together with mailing tape. Her shoes were wooden and painted, the paint wearing down to show the raw wood. I imagined that she smelled like excrement: the smell of homelessness. It would have been less offensive if the woman had sat down on the floor and held out a paper cup for us to drop money in. I might have forsaken a dime for her happiness or presumed drug addiction, but instead she was looking through the clothes, holding up little black party dresses with sequins sewn into the hems, checking the sizes to make sure they were the right one, mumbling her opinion of the garments to herself as if she were shopping with a friend. Everyone in the store looked at the woman, but no one said anything.  The woman seemed unaware that people were staring at her or perhaps she was and that was why she was talking. After running into her in three different stores, I told my friends I wanted to leave. I was tired of shopping. I didn’t want to spend any more money.
It wasn’t about the woman. She wasn’t hurting anything. Baldness was not catching, but hereditary and when there was a hole in my purse, I bought a new one.

Where the man died, the street looks the same. When I was eight lightning struck the sidewalk a block from my house and left scorched circles that remain years later. I grew up convinced that someone had died in my house and I could feel their presence. I was never scared of the dark until we moved and there seemed to be no plausible explanation for a five year old to inexplicably become afraid of the dark besides a ghostly apparition.
I want some sort of bloody remains on the sidewalk, though the death was not bloody. The outline of a body. This is where he fell. One of those crosses that are hung on the scene of car accidents.
The last time I smoked weed it was wintertime. I had drunk a lot of wine and was wearing a skirt. I walked to a friend’s apartment in a dingy old college apartment building that was painted yellow. It was called “Yellows.” It could be seen from several blocks away. The stairs creaked when walked upon and there was the constant scent of pot leaking from under doorways. At times, the entire building seemed to threaten collapse.
“Do you want to go build a snow fort?”
“Yes. It’s cold.”
I had no gloves, so I borrowed some and they were too big for my hands. I also borrowed a sweatshirt which I put under my black peacoat.
They had built a giant wooden cross and attached pieces of garbage to it and left it leaning against one of the academic buildings on campus.
“We are going to hang this to the tree. We found rope and everything.” She grinned.
Alex pulled out a pipe. We sat on the ground smoking. I didn’t feel high or drunk. I felt cold. I wanted music. We carried snow with our hands and added it to the already large pile they collected around a tree. Building the roof was difficult. Snow kept falling into the shelter. I can’t say how long we were out there, but my hands had turned pink. We smoked again and decided it was time to hang up the cross. They attached the rope to the cross and we swung the rope over the tree and tied the loose end to the trunk. I stood there like I was helping, but I wasn’t. We lay down in our snowy enclosure. Alex and Becky were spooning. I felt intrusive, but I didn’t know how to leave. I wanted to make a snow angel, but I didn’t know how to do that either. I started talking about boys. Alex and Becky weren’t listening to me. They were kissing. The cross swung about in the wind, the pop can hanging it making clanging noises. I thought about hypothermia and how you know you are really sick once you start feeling warm again. My limbs were creaky as I stood up.
“I’m going to walk home.”
The sky seemed tall and not at all roof like on the way home, crossing the tundra at 3 in the morning.
I put on music and lay down in bed. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep, but I was shaking from the cold and had to get in the shower where the water burned. 

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