Wednesday, January 04, 2006

2 AM

Two AM. I tiptoe upstairs, slip on my old baby blue bubble jacket, slide a pack of Camel Lights and fuchsia lighter into my pocket. Dog skips over, his nails tap-dancing across the hardwood floors, follows me to the door. His eyes twinkle, his head cocks to one side, asks me, “are we going outside?” I pat him on the neck, “sorry, hun, not right now.” I swing the door open fast so it doesn’t creak and squeal, announcing my escape. Even as a so-called adult, even as someone who spends most of the day searching for jobs, writing, sending emails to potential employers, trying to build a career—a future, I am still a child. I’m still in high school. Creeping out my bedroom window at midnight. The way B taught me to. Pretending to be a secret agent, swinging my leg expertly over the edge, landing soundlessly on the paved concrete even with my four inch platform heels. Trying not to wake my parents. Trying to escape into the freedom Outside promises.

My mother barred those windows when I caught someone creeping in the backyard watching me from somewhere in the darkness. Who? I still don’t know. By the time my dad switched on the backyard lights, he had fled. Doesn’t matter. She barred them to lock me in, not to keep him out.

I use the door now, grown-ups don't climb in and out of windows, but still feel the slight clench in my chest when I hear the screen door creak. Don’t want her to bitch at me for smoking. I know she’s been nursing the possibility that I quit while I was in London.

I stand outside, light a cigarette, take a deep drag, let the smoke permeate my lungs before exhaling audibly. I stop, look around, wonder why everything looks so strange, and only then I realize I haven’t stepped foot outside in two days. I’ve been holed up in my house. Rotting my brain with reality television. Obsessively checking my email for the interview requests that haven’t come. Fantasies of employers in bidding wars over me fading fast.

I stand out there, pacing back and forth, shivering against the wind, periodically engulfing myself in a cloud of smoke, watching a partially crushed Poland Spring bottle rolling down the empty street like tumbleweed. My mind wanders. Drifts to earlier this evening when my mother handed me a Christmas card, told me to write something to M. I stared at the blank card and even the “Dear M,” I had written across the top seemed inappropriate. What do you write to someone who’s lying in a hospital bed watching as Leukemia takes over? I hope you don’t die? I hope you got a lot of rest during that ten-day coma you were in? I’m tempted to tell him to be nicer to his mother because this is just as hard for her as it is for him. I’m tempted to tell him I never really liked him much when I saw him at church, an obnoxious, asshole punk who tried too damn hard. He reminded me too much of myself when I was in high school. Will I go to hell for thinking this? Is it worse that I only feel guilty about it now that he’s sick? I finally settle for “Get well soon. Hope you had a good Christmas. May the new year bring positivity and joy.” A standard Hallmark-esque thing to write. But what does it matter anyway?

I walk back to the side door, swing the screen door open, hold my breath when it creaks, slip back inside, look down expecting to see Dog waiting for me but he's already gone back to bed.



Post a Comment

<< Home