The neon blue light of the bus tints the aisle, lighting up everyone’s face until they look like ghosts. I study the unmoving mouths of the passengers as they claim various blue and white plastic seats. No one talks much on the night line.
I watch as an old woman pushing a shopping cart sits in the seat across from me. She’s chewing something, but she never swallows. Her cheekbones are sharp and one eye is wandering across the left side of her vision. I can’t look at her. She’ll talk to me.
That’s what happens when you’re nice to people. If you smile, they sit next to you. If you nod when they talk, they’ll never stop. Headphones and long jackets. I want my hair to cover my face.
I look down at my hands. My fingernails are light blue to match my sweater. My mp3 player with the missing battery cover is jammed into one of my many coat pockets. From the look of the dangling white cord in front of me, I could have an ipod. I’m not going to end up homeless, I keep chanting in the back of my head as I try not to look at the woman. Just because I don’t smile at her, doesn’t mean that this will someday happen to me.
The thoughts are drowned out by a rustling sound. I can feel a light warmth on the top of my scalp. I shake my head. The warmth grows. I can feel it clinging onto each strand as I try to shake the feeling. Immediately I turn to face the person behind me.
Eye crinkles and white hair. This man is just as old as the woman across from me. His eyes are dead and far off. I can smell alcohol on his breath. His hands are shaking and I can see strands of my hair wrapped around his little finger. They stick straight out in four static lines.
“Excuse me,” I look around the bus for anyone to help me. How could someone think this is okay? The woman with the lazy eye is staring in two different directions. One eye looks to the left. One eye is rummaging through her shopping cart. I am just as invisible as I never wanted to be.
The rigidity is hard to melt away. Cold. Brittle. I feel like she’ll snap without me. My heat, the warmth that comes over me, will curl over time. I wait for morning when she’ll reach for me. Needing me. Sharp, pointed, jagged and cut, I make her hard edges soft. When she looks in the mirror I know what her expectation is. Perfection. The kind of control that’s kept just under a flame. The kind I can not give her.
Before there was red, there was orange. It stretched its presence into an elastic yellow band and shot straight out.Into living room rugs and 70’s furniture, orange sat waiting for the intensity of red. A color that was too young to ignore.
When orange died out, the world turned to fire. Flames spanned the earth in sparks. Bursts. Short, quick, explosions that colored the air.Before there was red, there was containment. A living room full of muted ambitions. Tired, but comfortable, it sat in its favorite chair and contemplated the change.
I hope this doesn’t come across in the wrong way. You are a beautiful dish in your own right and I admire your sturdiness. It is clear that you’re a very accommodating plate and will always hold as much as you can. However, I’ve been talking it over with the group and we’re not sure if you would make the right impression for our annual family dinner.
Your resume is quite impressive and it’s not that we don’t appreciate your thrift store past, it’s just that we find you might have a difficult time relating to the others. This place setting is reserved for someone with more experience in the fine dining atmosphere.
Your hard edge must have served a good purpose for you in previous jobs, but we feel that the chip on your side can not easily be mended. I understand your last dinner party overlooked this aspect, but unfortunately this is a more formal setting.
In addition to the manners in which our table uphold, you also seem unfit in the looks department. While you were once, I’m sure, a beautiful, bright blue, you appear to have faded throughout the years. The decorative design that tattoos your whole body is a bit much for our usual look and to be quite frank, your complexion is not what should necessarily be showcased for this particular event.
For this years dinner we would really prefer all of our table to be matching. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience, but we will not be needing your services at this time. If you are still looking for a place come June, perhaps a summer picnic outside would better fit your needs.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
The power outlets line the walls of one of the old brick frat houses on Rugby road. Twin big eyes and an open mouth, they face the same direction, but stand far apart. They are waiting for the lava lamps. The stereo. The phone chargers. The cords. With their long, smooth, plastic covering that should just glide in. But they never do. Instead, they push, surging their energy inside. Fumbling in the dark. Bumbling their way in. Forcefully. Their power drowns out any voice that could be heard. Only an impression of what could have been said remains.
Cracked up mirror crunches time on a street corner. Whose mirror is it? When I look for the answer I only see myself – fragmented. Jagged elbows collide with eye brows and a stray knee cap. Parts of a whole spaced wide enough to stretch across one block wide.
I wonder what it was when it was still a working body. A diner mirror or a full length? Did it know it was complete or did it always have that nagging sense of space with sharp edges?
I was standing on the corner looking at these pieces for at least one minute too long before I picked out a shard. An eye. I could see what only pieces of snip-its might recall. In that shard there were a million conversations half cut off, cut up, and sticking. Straight out.
“This neighborhood is getting better all the time.” Bright eyes. Bright teeth. “In just a few years all this will be gentrified.” But that’s only half the conversation.
A rooming house, big old and paint peeled to perfection sits slumped below the hill. A large woman in a floral house dress sits on her plastic lawn chair. Smoking. She looks straight through the conversational shards and into the street corner.
Does she see me or only my back? A chunk is left by the house. Scraps of reflection scattering in the sun.