Muddy Heels

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Chapter 4

He was gone. What? Why? When had he left? Did he even see my titilating exhibition?

OMG, what if I looked like a total idiot up there, dancing my brains out for some guy who wasn't even watching?

No, I didn't look stupid - the applause still ringing in my ears confirmed that.

Ok, I've got to stretch my legs. Benches in airports weren't meant to be sat on by girls waiting for mysterious and potentially non-existent boyfriends. As I turn to pick up my purse I feel someone approach me from behind. My legs stiffen and my hands numb. Shit, is this it? I turn slowly, terrified of what I might see.

By the way, I know what you're thinking: of course looks aren't the most important thing to me - I'm not that shallow. But is it so bad to hope he might be at least remotely close to the gorgeous image I concocted in my head?

But it isn't him. Of course not, that would be too easy. Its the janitor, gesturing toward my empty paper coffee cup and asking if I've finished. I hand it to him with a grimace, wishing he really was my mystery man - he's not bad looking. And hell, I'd take anyone right now just to know I didn't dream this whole thing up. I pop over to the concourse cafe for another coffee, feeling a little better after I've flirted with the barista. It's now 7pm. He did say the flight leaves at 8:35. I mean, my understanding has always been that it's vitally important to be two hours early for any flight, but maybe he has one of those fancy security passes.

Or maybe he has a private jet! I imagine myself walking across the Tarmac in sights of hundreds of passengers, all wishing they were the ones approaching the shiny miniature plane of a handsome billionaire. I laugh to myself. I've always had such an active imagination. Plan for the worst, Ellie: boils, bald spot, and a missing eye. Yeah, I'll be ready for that.

Of course I know none of that is the case.

How, you ask? Well I'm not going to tell you how right now! It'll ruin the rest of the story - And if he really does have a private jet, I've got another hour and half to kill!

Let's get back to the club before you bombard me with anymore questions.

He wasn't there. My disappointment was palpable but palatable. The rest of the evening passed as usual, my momentary spark of excitement and mystery doused, and my professionalism taking up the slack. I returned home that evening exhausted and morose. The problem with moments of elation is the emptiness left in their wake.

It was Friday night so it was near 3am when I turned the corner onto Ponderosa Ave and pulled into my driveway. The lights were out in the neighboring town homes, leaving the neighborhood calm and quiet. I stopped to sniff the sweet aroma of the poinsettias by the driveway on my way in as I always did. Then unlocked the door and dragged myself lazily up the carpeted stairs, falling asleep just before my head hit the mattress.

That's right, bitches, I live in the fucking burbs. You weren't expecting that, were you? I told you I'd be the best in the business, and that means I make some damn good money. More than some of my judgmental neighbors.

I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I know you don't judge me that way. You're such a sweetheart. I wish I had neighbors so understanding. Of course, they all think I'm a bartender. I mean, come on, admit it: you wouldn't let your kids play in the yard next door to a stripper. It's practically akin to living next to a pedophile.

I don't like the assumptions people make about my career choices. But I've learned to accept them. There are some things in society you can't change. So rather than fighting for something that will never happen, or crying about it behind closed doors, I play the game along with everyone else and just let the world be what it is.

And when it gets to be too much, that's when I write. I write about unexpected heroes and conquering underdogs. It's a bit cliche, but I like to give my characters unusual hurdles; ones that might be considered sinful or harrowing to the layman. My protagonists are murderers, prostitutes, and thieves. They do horrible things to "good" people. It makes me feel better. It reminds me the world isn't always what it seems.

The next day (I almost said morning - ha!) my eyes mawed open around noon. I loved waking up at noon. My townhome was placed just right so the sun would creep slivers of light through my blinds and onto the edges of my bed. Something about it was so... Cozy. I didn't move a muscle but enjoyed the feel of my body gulped into the mattress like an anvil, the sun warming my arms, and the general feeling of peace after a good night's rest. I could have layed there forever.

I considered it. But around 12:30 I started getting restless. I hopped off the bed and ran to the shower for my morning meditation. I decided on scrambled eggs and toast for "breakfast" then sat myself judiciously at my desk in the front room, my notes organized and laptop awaiting the gentle strokes of my fingers. I had decided earlier that week to enter a writing contest. I had mixed feelings about the whole idea: on the one hand, what would it really do for me other than earn some extra cash? On the other hand, who knows? Maybe a publisher will be watching and I'll finally get my big break. Submitting to journals and literary magazines certainly didn't seem to be working.

I opened the laptop and navigated to a file called "A Ringer's Folly". After a quick scan of my last few paragraphs of work, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and let my mind and my emotions combust together, whirling and embracing to create an infinite number of colloquial combinations. And then I waited. I waited for the perfect intersection of words, emotion, and style.

My fingers began to move.

"The darkness fell upon her like the stale breath of an old enemy. Her hands clasped fervently the cold hard fingers of his left hand, squeezing in desperation, willing him to move. The light from the street lamp reflected off the shiny gold finish of his wedding ring. The ache and panic in the pits of her belly rose quickly, screaming at her - commanding her - to take action. Her tears decorated his skin as the body began to stiffen. She didn't have much time. She reached in her purse, pulling free a set of green wire cutters. A few red stains remained splattered on the old and worn tool. She always eyed them fondly when this moment came. It was the most difficult and the most rewarding act of her assault, always filling her with the deepest regret followed by feelings of closeness and acceptance she didn't know in any other context. She aimed the wire cutters around his ring finger, closing her eyes and bracing herself for the sound of snapping bone - that part always made her nauseated. Her prize was wrapped fondly in a handmade handkerchief and tucked lovingly into her bag by the wire cutters. She sat a few minutes longer, feeling the growing absence of warmth in his skin and imagining it filling her, energizing her, embracing her. When there was no life left to revel in, she stole quietly around the ally corner and disappeared inconspicuously into the winter snow."

My hands wouldn't stop for hours. My muse was like a well-oiled machine: pulling fuel from the depths of my soul, siphoning it through the core of my body, and splattering it innocuously all over the screen of my computer. It felt sensual, maybe even spiritual; like conducting electricity. It was the only time I felt more alive than I did on stage. It was the only time it felt like the world aligned perfectly with my body and the who within me to give me strength and purpose.

It was almost five o'clock when my muse dropped to her knees and surrendered for the evening. She had worked so hard; she deserved a break - and a meal! I hadn't noticed how hungry I was! I dashed to the fridge, pulling out bread, lunch meat, mustard, and pickles for a decadent sandwich. I couldn't believe I'd almost forgotten to eat again. I made that mistake one time before work and I paid dearly when I got dizzy and fell into one of the tables at the club, smacking my head on the edge and packing a huge bruise that kept me out of work for three days. It was in my amateur days so Randy had considered throwing me out entirely. Once again, I was reminded how lucky I was to have Mia.

I flipped on the TV for a little post-meal news. More in politics - our elections were coming up and the arguments and debates were in full swing. I can't say I followed politics too terribly closely, but there were a few topics about which I was passionate, primarily abortion, gay marriage, gun control and government control. I had built a particularly strong hatred for two political potentials who seemed to be far more popular than I would like. One was a republican, Smith Anderson, who fought for all those conservative social values I despised, and the other was a democrat, Brady Boswell, who came from one of those long familial lines of political power that stretched back generations. He was always touting arguments about gun control and bail-outs, blah, blah, blah.

Trust me, you can't be a stripper and support gun control. Few of us didn't have a concealed weapons permit; it came with the job.

My brain started to melt from all the political ridiculousness so I switched to a music channel, wiling away my final hour before work watching the amazing Paul Patson strum away at his guitar, singing decadent phrases that could only be written by a poet.

Now there's a man I wouldn't mind getting my hands AND brain into.

My soul full from the captivity of my novel and my body nourished, I headed off to work around 8. I waved to the boys playing in the street as I pulled out, wondering if I'd have one of those of my own someday. They smiled politely, though impatient to return to their game. There were only a few weeks left of summer and the fall always brought shorter days and earlier cut-off times for their play. They were still young enough to take full advantage of every moment at their disposal and I found myself hoping I hadn't lost that childlike innocence completely. As much as I enjoyed my job, I had a very love/hate relationship with my life; one I wasn't always so sure how to manage. And I ached for the singular focus of a child who never has to consider anything outside of right now.

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