Chapter 1: City
I believed in miracles. I believed in miracles because I met him; out of millions of people, we met. He took my hand and there were blasts, explosions.
I remember the blast of the gun as he screamed I would never leave him. The explosions as he pounded my head until the world went black. I recall the copper of blood as it filled my mouth.
I believe in miracles. Not all miracles are a good thing.
I stood on the corner of Cant and Evale. The rain that was pouring from the sky was doing its damnedest to extinguish the weak flame of my match. With a shout of triumph I managed to light my cigarette and took a well-deserved drag.
“Wow, did I need this. I’ve been working twenty hours straight. I imagine you’ve had a harder time though, huh, Drew?” I asked the man to my left as I lazily blew out. He was a good guy down on his luck. He was out of a job and, with it, his wife. He had owned a mansion on twenty acres with yachts and jets of his own. Now, thanks to his wife banging his lawyer, he lived in Motel 8 and scavenged the streets for any job he could find.
I blew out again, trying to mask the scent of unwashed pit that hung over this section of the city like a cloud. Ironically, I had first started smoking to survive. The scent of piss, beer, and body odor is so palpable over this section of the city, where drugs and sex are the presiding currency, that I have this fancy one can’t breathe too much of it and live to tell the tale.
“It would vastly improve if you would be so kind as to give me a drag of that cigarette, I dare say.”
I dug around in my purse and fished out a cigarette and a one for him, trying to contain my amusement. He always talked like that. I think it was to remind himself and others he had once been something, though I can’t imagine that it did him any favors out here on the streets. I liked him because of that lack of fear and consistent forbearance.
I saw the spark from the match once, twice, three times. Then the light, the puff of smoke, and the content sigh that always seems to follow.
We sat in silence in the pouring rain, content to share in each other’s company. The wind picked up, tossing chilled drops of rain into my face. I hunkered further down into the safe confines of my second-hand hoody before glancing at Drewick. He was shivering in the wet cold of the night, the threadbare sweater he wore doing nothing to protect him from the driving force of the elements. Moving in front of him, I took the force of the rain on my back.
“We’re supposed to be having an eclipse in a few days.”
He smiled gratefully at me, the significance of what I’d done not escaping his notice.
“A visible one?”
“Yeah. My boss, Jensen, is in a rave. Business is booming. People are flooding in from all over in anticipation of the event.”
“An eclipse. What a thing to see,” he mused as he gazed at the sky, momentarily forgoing another drag on his cigarette.
“Technically it is what we don’t see during an eclipse that makes the event so remarkable.
“That’s true enough,” a pause, then, “You know, a year ago I would have taken my yacht out on the ocean, found a nice viewing spot, and enjoyed the whole day with my wife while drinking a ridiculously expensive bottle of champagne. Likely Pol Roger.”
“There’s nothing wrong with not having all of that. Your value as a person isn’t diminished. You still have all that you need- your life, your health, your mind. With those you can go and find your own happiness, make your own Elysium. You’ll build yourself back up eventually; until that moment a yacht doesn’t matter, and you’re better off without a wife who was only your wife so long as you paid her. If that’s your style, I could recommend a few street corners. They come with less drama.”
I heard the loud rumble of an overworked motor and knew my bus was coming. Bruce was driving, then. He always went a bit fast. The lights of the speeding bus were cast across Drewick’s face, revealing the smile that was there before it faded away.
“Just remember- when you marry, get a prenup.”
The bus came to a reverberating, screeching halt. I took a final puff before tossing my cig; the rain quickly extinguished the last of the clinging embers. I fished out another dollar for Drewick before boarding the bus.
I announced my arrival to my empty one-room apartment with a slam of the door.
“Seer, hey!” I yawned as I gave my cat an affectionate pat, scratching my nails down her rough, black fur. She signaled her pleasure at my arrival with a resounding purr, arching her back into my hand.
“Let’s get you some milk,” I said cheerily as I plodded into the kitchen. No matter what mood I’m in, being in the comfort of my somewhat-dilapidated apartment and being around Seer, a twelve year old relic from my teenage years, always put me right. Tonight I had certainly needed to be perked up.
I hadn’t let Drew see it, the gloom that had taken over me. After all, what right had I to complain? Considering Drew’s dire circumstances- his sudden plummet to the lowest denizens of society and the crushing absence of one who had sworn to share his burdens- my tribulations, such as they are, seem inconsequential.
I had acted as though the things which he so desired- his lost wealth and his ex wife, was not determinate of his happiness in life. But the truth is, I understood his longing. It is the human condition to want more; the more one has, the more secure they are (so long as they come prepared to marriages with prenups). Even beyond that, though, I most understood the empty longing that stems from the absence of a partner in life. I desired the security and comfort being settled promised. I wanted more than anything to find a significant other; wanted it with a desire so acute it seemed it would burn me up from the inside out.
I am intensely lonely. I can’t really proffer a guess as to why; perhaps it is the fact that I am twenty-seven and can feel time slipping away faster every year, like the thief it is. Perhaps it is the pressures of my past finally breaking through. All I know is that one day I had woken up and it had suddenly hit me that I was utterly alone in this world. I agonized over it for days, wondering why it should bother me so fiercely when I have been alone for most of my life and I have larger concerns. Yet the fact remains that I am alone and it does bother me.
I gave Seer her milk and pulled my mattress out of the wall. I curled up on it, one of my pillows clutched tightly to my chest. I closed my eyes and imagined it was a flesh and blood person. I could almost believe it.
At least I had Seer. When she was done drinking her milk she would curl up beside me, as was her habit.
Good, dependable Seer.