(this short story was originally written on Sep. 27, 2016)
Let me Float.
He offered me a wish. One wish. I was exhausted, again. Riding on the Red Line from a 13 hour shift. I was a runaway. I ran because I needed to be safe, more importantly, to feel safe. My family needed me to feel safe. I was starting a new in a new world. I was NEEDING A HOME. I was terrified but realized that my fear was gift. I know, sounds messed up.
For months, I had been fighting through a state of trauma, paranoia, survival, and PTSD. But, I was living and I was living so well. Smile, even though you are broken because that is the only way to mend.
Some people spend their lives just watching TV, metaphorically and in reality. They watched when maybe they should be the one being watched. I am the person who is always being watched. Back to the wish......
I didn't even want to comprehend the people around me. The redline in Chicago can be a little rough. You have to take care of yourself if you might get fucked at any moment or you might find yourself in a very comprehensible situation, I was use to this feeling. That night though I didn't give a fuck. I was just me and I was drained but I was still going after my dreams and that is all that mattered. I knew my next stop, Roosevelt. Chicago, get's bone chilling freezing in the winter so I started putting on my gear: earphones, mittens, hat, hood, and three scarves. An old man sat next to me. I ignored him of course. Was not in the mood to be bothered or bother. He passed me a paper. It was crumpled and yellow. Like an old receipt with the numbers faded. I took it and quizzing look of apprehension I stared at him. He nodded his head. I opened the crumpled mess. Faded words in ink revealed, "If I could give you one wish NOW, what would it be?"
I looked at him now. Wrinkly black skin with the blackest eyes that could penetrate like you are his prey and him the lion. He wore a smart suite, wool gray jacket, beanie, and held a black cane. He looked gone though. Just a vagabond sense of spirit behind those glass eyes. despite his appearance he sensed wanting. Some might feel him a demon but I just saw him like a curious creature that might reveal a secret.
Being an artist, I took out my sketchpad. I wanted to answer him the way he questioned me. I wrote this, "Every time that I am on this train and write a location of where I want to be the door will open at the next stop at that location." I looked in those dark eyes with a furrow. He nodded and I sighed. I wrote this, "My Old Home."
He chuckled and with a cheshire grin starting murmuring names that I had been called before, "Fucking Cunt. You wide-pussied whore. Go fuck yourself. Go FUCK HIM!!! All you will ever be is a dumb slut. Ugly piece of shit....." He kept going. My chest gripped itself and started pounding with anxiety. His voice was a voice of my past. It was his voice. My old love's voice. Dark and sultry but cutting to the middle of my heart. I never wanted to hear that voice again but there it was ringing in my ears. "Roosevelt, is your next stop," the intercom announced. As my hands shook unceasingly I closed my sketchpad slowly put it in my purse and stood up wearily to exit. Already about to collapse from the day I felt almost to faint, I wasn't scared but anxious and strong, the feeling a warrior would have as if getting ready for battle. I pulled myself up holding onto the above railing. I thought to myself, "God, Drugs, right.....I hope that man gets help." I closed my eyes as the train pulled to a stop. I was trying to compose my anxiety by closing off one of my senses. I pushed play on my iphone, I needed to cut off another sense "Way Down We Go," by Kaleo started playing. I couldn't have an anxiety attack in public again. "Keep your heart, honey, keep your strength" I thought. The doors opened as my eyes did but I was no longer looking at the Roosevelt stop in Chicago.
I was looking out into the the Old GreekTown TRAX stop in Salt Lake City, it was sunny and the wind smelled like Fall. I waited. I didn't want to go. I was being pushed and cursed my Chicagoans as they exited but I didn't want to leave. Still, I stood solid, confused but strong. My feet were glued to the cold steel ground. I looked back to where the old man sat. He was gone and so was everyone else. Everything grew quiet and the sound of humming electricity was all I heard. I sat back down and just waited. I was on the red line but looking out the windows and opened door it was my old Salt Lake home. After sitting for about half an hour with my itune sounds resinating in my ears I started to realize I was going anywhere. My heart was still pounding in my chest but I was containing the raging anxiety. It was turning into fear but Courage is still continuing. I stepped out.
I looked down at my attire and I was dressed in one of my cute long sleeved rompers with purple flowers, peep toe heels and my old leather purse with the broken gold zipper. I didn't know the time but I knew where I was and I knew I was still with him. I had stepped back into my past. I slowly started to our beautiful 3 story red-brick home. I was happy to see my old home and even more excited to see my old art studio. The window was open on the top floor and I saw the glare of our TV screen and heard the news playing and then dread filled me. He was home. I stood below that window looking up for a good 5 minutes then with reluctance I called out his name. "Baby, yeah, you are home! I'm coming." There was his voice again. Last time I heard it was from the old man, before that I heard it muffled through his tears as he ws being forced out of our home, "I'm sorry baby, Please! Please! I'm so so sorry, I love you." My heart wrenched with for of him as I remembered that I dumbstruck and in shock sitting on sat our velvet-grey couch battered and bruised from his assaults the night before, "I'm sorry baby, please! Please! I'm so so sorry, I love," his voice echoed. I knew he was coming. I walked up the ramp. My steps seemed like an eternity as I was reliving my past. I was in front of our glass door and it opened hastily. I was in front of my worst enemy. An enemy I still love deeply and despise at the same time. This was before the assault. I was terrified. He embraced me and I melted. "This is a nightmare! A living nightmare," I screamed in my head. His old smell took me over. "Hi, baby. Ha I've had a long day and need to do a quick glaze in my studio before joining you upstairs. Is that okay?" I hesitatingly asked. He grabbed the back of my neck. It took everything in my being to hold still and pretend like I wasn't about to cry out loud in pain as memories of those same hands around my neck came rushing through. Our lips touched and I gave in. You never stop loving someone no matter the harm they caused you.
"See you upstairs. I have salt and vinegar chips for you an some craft beer. Tonight is 'Sixty Minutes,'" he grinned.
"Okay," I hesitatingly chuckled back.
My heart filled with joy as I left him running downstairs because (1) I was terrified of him and (2) there I found myself in my old art studio. The smell of wood, oils, and gamsol filled my nostrils.
"God, no wonder I took his abuse for so long. I wanted to keep this place."
I sat down in front of my old easel and canvas. My painting I looked at was in the beginning stages and I knew how it would turn out. It would be my goodbye to him and I would finish it alone in this place after my decision was made to leave him and while I was recovering from his bruises and choking. I would entitle it "Sunset."
"He is Jekyll tonight," I murmured. "I can tell."
I decided to love him again that night knowing that this nightmare would soon end. To feel like heaven when you are in hell is a profound experience.
We were one again, just for the moment. I was wishing to wake up back in Chicago, back on the red line. As my naked body engulfed his that night and I lay on his chest that was my prayer. To be as far away as possible from because I knew what he denies that Hyde would awake soon and for the last time on me. "I love you, I promise you baby that it will never happen again. I'm done, Okay? I love you," he proclaimed. I pretended to sleep and felt his hand caress my hair and his lips kiss my forehead. I died inside and then I floated away.
I woke up the next day back on the red line. "Roosevelt," the intercom announced. I looked down at my still open sketchpad the words "Old Home" were gone. Relief filled my being. The old man gone. I closed my pad and carried on.