I found myself walking in the darkened streets of my old home of South Central. I had no idea where I was heading, but I walked briskly to my destination. Every street was empty and quiet with only the usual sounds of faint sirens miles away, and rustles from the alley animals. It was much more silent than I was used to. The air was damn cold, but I wore nothing on top of my shirt but a button up. I wore only what I’d wear on a normal day, never prepared for any extremes in temperature… My balls retreated from the cold.
Soon I reached a broken down driveway, leading to an even more desolate home. Its door was the only part which seemed durable. There was a sedan parked out front that had collected dust from being untouched for months or even years. I approached it, ready to lay my fingers on the dust canvas. Still, I stood motionless in driveway, confused, with my finger on the glass.
Dust collected on the sides of my fingers as they scratched against the scars on the glass. They had formed a letter, alone in the dust; just my initial. The scars had spread further to prevent any more letters from being imprinted. I still attempted to fit in all the letters which made my name.
The door opened and out came a girl I hadn’t seen since my years in high school. She was taller than me by only half an inch and wider only because of her hips. I remembered how her face only showed kindness and humility, last I saw her. This was now replaced by a frowning, weathered, almost snarling face. She was still beautiful despite her new expression. The eyes were the same hazel, but seemed to be less inciting. Her eyelashes still grew for miles, and her cheeks were still plump and red. Still she looked terrifyingly hostile. She didn’t immediately recognize me but when she did, her face changed mildly to a more tolerable look.
I think her name was Maria.
She invited me in, and immediately offered me some liquor. I gladly accepted and she went off into the kitchen to prepare some. I walked in slowly, passing a cabinet that had almost slapped my face years before. The living room was large, but empty only having couches facing one another in a rectangle. I looked about to see that they were all empty, but jumped when I saw a body lying on one of them. It was her mother there, motionless, with mouth agape. I feared she was dead.
The path to the kitchen was next to her unconscious body, so I snuck by. My arms were tucked close to my chest, as I was terrified of feeling her body to mine. Maria (?) was buried in the fridge looking for limes, I believe. I asked her if she needed help finding anything. Angrily and annoyed, she told me to find the liquor in the cabinets.
The cabinets seemed familiar to me, as if I had lived in this home for years. I found the liquor almost immediately, and poured them onto the ice on the readied glasses. I lifted one for myself, and reached for the other. Maria asked me to wait for her in the living room.
I sat diagonally from the body, sipping quietly.
Maria came back into the living room and laid across from me on a couch that was much too big for one body. I rested my glass on the table near me, and walked to her. She smiled invitingly, but I had already invited myself. I took the glass from her and laid it on the floor. I somehow founded myself on top of her….
We spoke politely of things people spoke of when seeing one another after a long period of absence. It was the usual questions about what we have done, or how we’ve been. This was brief though, as we held each other closer and our breathing grew heavier. Our lips met; I shivered. We knew what was about to transpire, and didn’t deny it.
She looked me in the eye and asked:
“Have you done this before?”
I wanted to lie, as was my plan all these years. I wanted to say this was my first time, as I did with everyone else I ever encountered in a romantic way. The plan was to keep the image of The Virgin Skully ongoing. I was ready to say, “No, I have never done this. I am as pure as the oil in your kitchen!” I did not say this. I just said,
Maria lifted me off the couch, and once again I saw the corpse on the couch. I nervously eyed it as she smothered me through the hall to her bedroom. The corpse moved its lips angrily at her without opening its eyes. It knew what I was to do to her daughter this night, and what she was to do to me. I collected myself, from this hallucination, as I fell back first onto her bed; her arms grasping at my chest, as my own held her neck.
Our clothes vanished. Only her slender waist was visible to me from the dim street lights which entered through the slits of her window.
The bed was much too small for more than one body. Legs dangled off the edge of the bed. My own toes grazed the carpet. I had feared as I did before on the couch that I was not prepared for this encounter: I had no condom. She said not to worry. This worried me more. Then she slunk down lower onto me, relaxing me delightedly.
From behind her head, between my legs, I saw two figures. They were standing at the doorway without light, so only their outlines were recognizable. One blended into the other. The tallest one was feminine, the smaller one unknown. Their smiles, malevolent and terrifying, arrested me in place. Unable to move, I gazed as they did. The only motion was Maria, although all I saw while staring at the doorway was the top of her head.
The room began to shrink tighter into a black oblivion. It consumed my vision, bringing in more black from every corner. Before I disappeared, the last thing I saw was its eyes piercing me.
I jolted up from her bed. It was empty; much too large for one person. Maria was at her dresser putting clothes on (panties first). She noticed I had awoken, so she stopped, came over to me and leaned over to give me a kiss. Her panties were striped, and at eye level from raising her buttocks in the air to get a better kiss. I stared at it a while. She laughed.
“Well,” said she, “I thought you’d look at my breasts first thing this morning, since I have nothing on… but you seem occupied by my panties.”
“Oh, sorry. I’ll look at your boobs now.”
So I did.
It was wonderful.
The shower was across from her room. I readied the water, and waited on the u-bowl. Steam soon rose from the tub. I felt it with my palm, feeling it relax my muscles. There was a yell from the living room. It was her mother. Her voice was harsh and austere, yelling at her about bringing a man home. She wasn’t dead after all.
“Fuck you!” It was Maria. “Fuck you, you fucking cunt! Leave me the fuck alone!”
I had never heard a voice once so soothing, utter so much hatred. It was only a few years before that Maria and her mother were so loving with one another. They smiled at each other when they entered a room. Her mother spoke fondly about her to her friends, while they in turn spoke greatly about her. The family’s proudest member, who’d won valedictorian, was on her way to the most prestigious college in the country. No need to mention which Ivy League it was to your friends, mother, for that was being too arrogant.
I remember how bright her smile was when she greeted me at the door of her home, in 2007. We were both much younger and beautifully naïve. It was the day of her graduation party in some lost fall evening I don’t remember well. I’d brought her a present; it was my usual gift, which I thought was nice and hopeful for both them and I. It was a dollar bill. On it was the date of the gifting, and I promise it’d be worth something wonderful one day. One day when I was famous and wealthy from my work. A dream one day I hope it could be, but no longer believe.
It was also a promise to never lose touch. They would keep the dollar with them for years, and every time I’d see them, more of my signature would be filled. Soon as well I’d have a little doodle made just for them. Sometimes this dollar never held the promise and I never saw my money ever again. Inside my pockets, I grasped the bill in my hand.
“James!” she smiled and held me tightly close to her. “I’m glad you could come.”
“No problem, señorita,” I said.
I passed her kept yard, through the path to the back where all the tables were placed neatly about. I found I knew no one here, standing or sitting. There was, though, a table full of people around my age. So I sat with these saps, attempting to be as friendly as possible.
Maria walked by the table; the tips of my fingers grazed her waist as she passed, as people did when they were about to ask a question. She’d felt it, paused, and looked to me. Hazel spheres stayed on me ‘til she sat directly across the table. I raised my cup of tea to her, she bashfully lowered her head. Her cheeks puffed slightly.
There were several gifts given to Maria, and many were grand. Even her father gave her a car: an old ‘90s sedan from some make I didn’t know (I have always been bad with knowing anything about cars). She beamed at every present, each more or equally extravagant as the one before. These made my own gift feel as shitty as my rabbit’s dung under my boot. So I had decided not to give it to her at this moment, but wait until the festivities had calmed.
I let myself into the house, where her mother was already in the process of leaving out the door. Her smile greeted me and she told me her daughter was in her room. I thanked her, and went through. Maria was sitting cross-legged on her bed, sifting through a box. She’d left most of her gifts on her counter or floor, and I kicked myself through the gifts.
I jumped on the bed… exhaled.
The tub had already filled, soon to overflow. Steam had fogged the mirror, as well as my view but I stayed in place. I was afraid of encountering her mother, who I had only seen as a dead stump the night before. She was sure to come by and give me a mouthful.
At the doorway stood Maria, wearing an oversized sweater to hide her figure. It was a shame. She rested on the doorway, looking down at me. I looked up to see her looking again like she did the night before: worn.
“Listen,” she said, “I need to go get something from the liquor store real quick. When you’re done with the shower, lock yourself in my room until I come back… okay?”
“Sure,” I said.
She lingered at the door. Then she wiped the fog off the mirror with her sleeve, in a diagonal swipe. She told me to waste the water and left to her business.
The room was quiet. The door was locked. I laid on her bed, awaiting her return… What was I doing? Why was I still here? How did I end up in her home? What is she going to do? Jesus, I don’t remember much of what happened that night.
That night… All night, there were hisses from her open window. All night the street lights unnaturally lit her face, changing it ghastly as she moved. The room was small, and would grow smaller as time passed, until it touched my heels. I kicked back, trying as much as I could to put it back into place. The walls refused to give, and I pounded harder. It tricked me into believing some creature had infested the room with its presence, following every movement I made. I couldn’t stand it. I wanted to leave, but the girl held me down on her cushion, refusing any effort.
Here I was again, on her bed, without Maria to hold me there. The doors could be opened, and I knew my way home. It would’ve been just a few movements to get out the door and go home.
But of course there was still a train to take… I’ll stay.
On her counter there were papers, notices, coins, as well as some books scattered about. There wasn’t much to do while waiting so I decided to look through her books for something nice to read. They were mostly her old children’s books or textbooks, and even her journal. So I chose “Peter and Wendy” from the pile because I was in the mood for something with adventure.
Maybe some story about swashbuckling or murder will take me away from own boring life of paranoia.
There was a soft knock at the door. I turned quickly but didn’t say a word; I only waited for a voice, so I didn’t accidentally open the door for her mom. Soon enough I heard her voice telling me to open the door immediately. I turned the knob to let her in, kept an arm behind me, and motioned for her to come in. She did so with a small bag with “Thank You!” printed on, with flowers dancing around the words. This was “generic plastic bag,” common in small businesses. It made me smile.
“Were you looking through my shit?” she asked.
“No,” I said, “I was only keeping myself entertained.”
“Well,” she said, “You should’ve. I have a lot of interesting things in here.”
She sat with her legs crossed on the bed, leaning back and supporting herself with her arms. I stayed on my feet with the book in my hand. She looked over to me and patted the space next to her. I joined her and tossed the book aside. She inched closer to me.
“I have some things here that belong to you,” she said. “You forgot them.”
“I did? Like what?”
“Well,” she pointed to a corner, “There is that.”
I looked over to the corner she pointed. There was a pile CDs and CD cases. Below all of them was an LP. Just one.
“Is that my Floyd LP?” I asked. “I forgot I let you borrow that. Did you at least listen to it?”
She shook her head.
“I don’t even have a record player,” she said. “I never got one.”
“Then why did you take it?” I frowned at her. I had missed it for so long, but had forgotten who I left it with. For a while I thought I lost it myself.
“You were very adamant about me listening to it,” she said. “I felt like it would have hurt you if I said no.”
“You could’ve told me you didn’t have a record player,” I said. “We could have listened to it at my house… or something.”
She didn’t say a word, so we both sat in silence for a few minutes. I broke the silence:
“I haven’t been in your room since that party.”
“Which one?” she asked.
“The last one I-“
“I know,” she smiled. “I was just fucking with you. Yup. It’s been a while. You didn’t speak to me again.”
“I tried,” I lied. “But the number I had didn’t work.”
“Might’ve changed it…”
Maria leaned down to pick up a book. Its cover was for a pocket anatomy text which was tattered from use. Inside, though, it was neat and clean. The writing was from an ink sharp point pen which bled a lot through the pages. It was ruled, and had many blank pages. This was her diary.
“I never really wrote much in this book,” she said, “after my dad-“
“One of the last few entries is about you.”
“Really?” I asked, surprised. “What is it about? When did you write it?”
“It was the night of the party,” she said, flipping through some pages. Her thumb landed on a green bookmark, holding the entry. She opened it wide for me to see. It was my old dollar bill.
I smiled and scratched at the printing, like I used to do to check for counterfeit bills. The date was clear, and just one letter of my name was written like all those years ago. I never did see her again, like I thought I would.
“You actually kept it,” I said. “I don’t think anyone else has. I always kind of figured I’d see it one day as change at a liquor store.”
“I never forgot what you said that day,” said Maria, “or what you did for me… You never did come back.”
I took a pen from my pocket, took off the cap, and pressed its tip onto the bill on the page. I flicked it quickly into a circle. Now there was a new letter on the bill: the “a.”
“I did,” I said, showing her the bill, “and I will again. I never did finish this signature now, did I?”
She put the diary in my hands, still open. I gripped it tightly… but I still couldn’t read it. So I left her room to leave back home. The diary was still in her room on that bed where I sat for too long. I told her that she needed it for herself, and I had no need to read another person’s words no matter how curious I was.
Maybe it read of love and the next of betrayal. Maybe it was about friendship and subsequent loss. Maybe the passage was wonderful things about me, from back when you were so fine and bright. I was the friend who did nothing but show you how to enjoy the shit that was thrown at your way. Maybe it was about how I may have been worried about your trip, which took you far, far away from me. I maybe said something to you about COLLEGE! where you would go on to be a doctor eight years in advance, holding a degree over my head. Maybe I said something to hurt you that I can’t remember today. Maybe not.
Maybe I should have read it to remember exactly what happened that day. She kept the dollar in, so maybe it was positive. I should have read it.
I saw the corpse on the couch again before I left. Her mother must have been tired from all her yelling. I never knew whether she was alcoholic and this was the reason she stayed immobile, never noticing me walking in and out of her home. I felt like nudging her with my shoe, like I used to do for road kill I encountered so many times on the road.
We hugged at the door, and I gave her a kiss. She kept it on her, but I told her to put it in her panties.
She asked why, and I told her:
I’d be back to collect it.